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2017. Another testing calendar year for Charlton Athletic, and those that follow them. Even when they appeared to have themselves in a positive position, a run of seven winless games at the end of the year put pay to that.
But there have been moments to enjoy. Wins, heroic efforts and emotional scenes. Games, days and events to appreciate and remember, amid the difficulties.
Marvellous Magennis’ hat-trick (v Bristol Rovers, 02/01/2017)
Charlton’s 2017 began by achieving their joint-highest winning margin of the calendar year.
Bristol Rovers beaten 4-1 at The Valley, and that coming after the visitors had taken the lead. An advantage gifted to the visitors. Patrick Bauer slipping, allowing Jermaine Easter through on goal, and the striker, who infamously scored for League Two Wycombe Wanderers to deny Premier League Charlton a place in the League Cup semi-final, rounded Dillon Phillips to score.
Karl Robinson’s side not responding well to falling behind in such a fashion with only 12 minutes played, and there little suggestion that the deficit would be overturned. But there improvement as half-time neared, and the Addicks were able to go in at the break level. Josh Magennis heading home from Joe Aribo’s free-kick.
A vital goal, for it set the foundations from which the hosts would emerge for the second period with much greater intensity and confidence. Five second-half minutes all that were required to put the Addicks ahead. Magennis again heading home from an Aribo free-kick to put Robinson’s side in control of the contest.
And, quite incredibly given how much they struggled after falling behind, the points appeared to be theirs with a little less than half-an-hour to play. A third assist from Aribo, as Teixeira turned in his low cross. A position that the vastly improved Addicks deserved to be in.
So too did the excellent Magennis warrant the hat-trick that was to follow. And the Northern Ireland international claiming it in style. A long ball over the top from Andrew Crofts brought down well, before the ball was curled beautifully beyond Rovers goalkeeper Will Puddy.
Not a bad little way to begin the year.
Battling to overcome Bolton (28/01/2017)
Charlton’s victory at Bolton Wanderers in January is certainly one of their most impressive wins of the calendar year, and quite possibly the most unlikely.
For total humiliation appeared to be on the cards just 12 minutes into the contest at the Macron Stadium. Lewis Page dismissed for stopping Josh Vela’s run on goal, and the promotion-chasing Trotters, who ultimately finish second, scoring through Zach Clough from the resulting free-kick. A heavy defeat surely on the cards.
But ten minutes later, the Addicks had levelled. Patrick Bauer converting from Jake Forster-Caskey’s free-kick. No real faith that it would mean much, but at least Karl Robinson’s men weren’t lying down and accepting their fate.
Incredibly, though, the visitors took the lead in first-half stoppage-time. Possession almost entirely belonging to Bolton, Charlton’s goal had been peppered, and only good fortune had prevented the score-line returning to what seemed inevitable. But, with their next shot after drawing level, Nathan Byrne took Forster-Caskey’s through ball in his stride, and finished superbly.
Disbelief that the Addicks had pulled in front, but the celebrations were made with the knowledge that there remained 45 minutes to keep Bolton’s 11 men at bay.
The extent of Bolton’s domination reaffirmed in the statistics. The Addicks managing just three shots and a single corner, while the Trotters had 15 attempts on goal and eight corners. And yet, Robinson’s side managed to stand firm.
Each man in red gave more energy and determination that they had to give, Bauer and Konsa were immense at centre-back, and as full-time drew near Bolton’s control of the contest turned to a frustrated lack of threat.
A belief created, though ultimately misguided, that this side could fight for something in the remainder of the 2016/17 campaign under Robinson’s stewardship.
Robinson’s 40% (v Shrewsbury, 28/02/2017)
Right, give me a moment. I’ve not lost the remaining marbles I had, or at least yet. I don’t enjoy hilarious failure, unless it’s Leon Best scoring an own goal three minutes after coming on against a club who despises him.
Robinson’s rant at the end of the ridiculous 4-3 defeat to Shrewsbury Town, in which Charlton came a distant third behind Ricky Holmes FC, almost has something of an iconic status. Reflecting the state team, in addition to club, were in at the end of last season. Reaffirming that relegation was a real possibility.
Players not fit to wear the shirt, 40% not caring, and an event pre-game that Robinson had never seen before at any club. A rallying cry would have hidden certain details. This was the brutal truth.
But it was a brutal truth, fairly obvious to the eyes of most Addicks in recent seasons, that needed to be said. In the words of Robinson, “for too long too many people have dodged bullets”. No other boss has had the bollocks to say anything like that under Roland Duchatelet’s reign.
Bob Peeters seemed like he wanted to bemoan what was occurring in certain times, but never quite managed. Russell Slade, despite being outside the network, lacked the strength of character to make such a statement. Jose Riga, Guy Luzon and Karel Fraeye abiding by the rules they were given.
At the time, it only increased the pressure on Robinson, failing as the side slumped towards the bottom four. But, on reflection, it showed Robinson was going to fight. Fight for what he wanted, for his own squad, and to at least remove the poison from the pitch, if not the club.
He’s not necessarily had perfect results, but he’s gone further to getting what he wanted than any other Charlton manager in recent times. A reasonably strong side, with what appears a good team spirit, that have managed to win games. His determination the sort of attitude required to work under this regime.
I don’t always like the nonsense Robinson comes out with, and I would suggest that some degree of disliking to his words in certain moments isn’t uncommon. The AFC Wimbledon stuff was pathetic, like a teenager looking for a response on Twitter, and his assessments of games can sometimes be confusing. Living in Milton Keynes, my mum drinks in the same pub as him, and his rather boisterous words aren’t reserved to press conferences, although my mum might have just been pissed and made it up.
But he stands up for himself. For the club. And offers some fight.
Tony Watt (Watt, Watt, Watt) (v Scunthorpe, 07/03/2017)
Talented and committed players have upheld the connection between supporters and club, and many with questionable attitudes and ability have been ridiculed, but few have proved as divisive in such a black or white period as Tony Watt.
The glimpses of individual skill and quality meant he had many backers hopefully he could display his talents consistently, others felt his heart and head weren’t in it. A number felt constant loan spells and fortunate injury meant he didn’t get enough chances, others assumed he was lazy. Some believe his interests away from football make him human, others want to bizarrely waste time sending him abuse on Twitter knowing full well he’ll have a response.
But there no doubt the frustrating Scot united The Valley when Scunthorpe United visited in March, converting a last-minute penalty in front of the Covered End to earn the Addicks a first win in nine games.
Robinson’s side performing in pathetic fashion – the 40% speech following the defeat at Shrewsbury Town occurring just a week prior to this contest – and another defeat anticipated against second place Scunthorpe. But the Addicks competed against the Iron, and a change of fortune anticipated when Johnnie Jackson volleyed home from close range with 33 minutes played. A Johnnie Jackson so often inspires in desperate times.
But the visitors, as a consequence of a horror error, were able to equalise through Kevin van Veen with 15 minutes to play. A draw against a side competing for promotion, in Charlton’s state, would have been a commendable result, and at least ended a run of four consecutive defeats. But not winning the game would have been crushing to a side who already had nil confidence.
The draw, and the consequence it might have, anticipated until the final minute. Jorge Teixeira dragged down inside the box, and a penalty award. Soft, but certainly enough in Murray Wallace’s contact for the decision to be made, and the prematurely celebrating supporters didn’t care regardless.
Jackson, with an inconsistent penalty record but someone you would certainly trust in such a circumstance to convert, still on the pitch, but Watt claiming the ball and placing it on the spot despite not scoring for the Addicks since returning from Hearts in January.
The Valley not convinced the Scot would convert, but the ball confidently fired into the bottom corner, and impressive celebrations following. More ones of relief for both parties, given Watt’s run without scoring and Charlton’s form. But a goal and a moment so desperately needed.
PC Keith Palmer (v MK Dons, 04/04/2017)
Pride in Charlton Athletic Football club had on few occasions in 2017. But it was certainly there as the Addicks honoured PC Keith Palmer. The season ticket holder killed in the Westminster terrorist attack.
His red seat changed to a white one, inscribed with his warrant number. His brother, effectively held by Johnnie Jackson, and 22 members of the police force, on the pitch as wreaths were laid and a minute’s silence had. “PC Palmer, he’s one of our own,” sung by his fellow supporters.
A fantastic tribute to a hero. One that saw emotion spread around the ground. Hard not to feel on the verge of tears as he was honoured.
Some contrast between the respect offered to PC Palmer, and the Charlton performance that followed that left supporters singing “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”.
The season saving Southend win and the efforts that followed (08/04/2017)
The intense worry suffered at the start of April that the Addicks were set for a second successive relegation were not irrational or hysteric. One win in 14 games had left Robinson’s side in 16th, just four points above the relegation zone with five to play. Pathetic defeats to Peterborough United and MK Dons, in which Charlton’s performances were so poor hostile chanting of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” were produced, stripping supporters of all confidence.
So that the Addicks were able to comfortably pull away from the bottom four was an achievement in its self. To do so with four victories in five games, given that another victory all season seemed unlikely, was mightily impressive. A run beginning with an unlikely victory against Southend United four days after the MK Dons humiliation.
Adam Thompson turning Nathan Byrne’s delivery into his own net with 16 minutes to play to give Robinson’s side their first victory in seven, after the Shrimpers had previously responded to Ricky Holmes’ opener with an equaliser from the head of John White. Though the real match-winner was former Charlton loanee Franck Nouble. An open goal missed in the dying moments to confirm victory for the Addicks.
It followed by a draw away at Coventry City, which relegated the Sky Blues, and three successive wins, with Gillingham, Chesterfield and Swindon Town the victims. As many wins achieved in five games as Robinson had managed in his previous 22 league games in charge.
The final four results achieved against teams who would finish in the bottom five, but the Addicks were in such a state prior to the Southend victory that defeats to teams of that standard appeared likely. The win over the Shrimpers the catalyst for avoiding being drawn into the bottom four. A relatively comfortable, though still horrendous, 13th-place finish achieved.
Bauer’s opening day ‘goal’ (v Bristol Rovers, 05/08/2017)
A new season. Encouraging signings made over the summer. A desperate need for a positive start after the season before.
So Lee Novak receiving a red card six minutes into the campaign wasn’t exactly ideal. The forward, who would leave the club before the end of August, dismissed for a heavy challenge on Bristol Rovers’ Stuart Sinclair. Victory unlikely.
However, 38 minutes into the game, Patrick Bauer headed the Addicks in front. A ‘goal’ more dubious than Novak’s dismissal. The ball probably not crossing the line.
But whether it did or not was of no interest to the Charlton supporters inside The Valley. The first goal of the season to celebrate, and now 52 minutes for these ten men to hold on. Victory still seeming unlikely, but the Addicks had given themselves a chance.
The response determined and resolute. Bristol Rovers applying pressure throughout the second half, and Ben Amos appearing uncomfortable in the Charlton goal, but those in red stood firm. The ten men defending superbly, and the character of Robinson’s fresh side indicated for the first time.
An ugly start to the season, but a hard-working performance earning the Addicks an unlikely win.
Fosu’s form-inspiring hat-trick (v Fleetwood Town, 30/09/2017)
Heading to Fleetwood Town in September, the Addicks were without a win in four. Not just without a win in four, but without an encouraging performance in that time. Having thrown away victory at Walsall in the midweek that preceded the game at Highbury, there little confidence that a positive result would be achieved.
Confidence crushed when, with their first shot of the game, Fleetwood’s Bobby Grant was allowed through on goal to finish with 25 minutes played, and cancel out Tariqe Fosu’s opener. A set-back for a side that had lacked resolve in recent weeks. A worry that such a moment would be crushing.
But this was an excellent Charlton performance, one of the best of the year, not to be interrupted by the Trawlermen’s equaliser. They pressed, they attacked with intensity, and they controlled the game. Fosu scoring an excellent second to restore the visitors’ lead five minutes before half-time.
The Addicks, however, having thrown away two advantages at Walsall, would not feel confident until a third was struck. A third struck by Fosu, breaking through and finishing coolly beyond Alex Cairns. A marvellous hat-trick from the winger, playing the lead role in an outstanding collective performance.
It would inspire a run of nine games without defeat, pushing the Addicks towards the top. We’ll simply disregard that it was immediately followed by seven winless game to end the year, and that positive work was undone.
Amos’ stunning saves (v Bradford City, 21/10/2017)
Charlton supporters were, justifiably, not convinced by Ben Amos during the opening games of the season. Not only had he flapped to allow Plymouth Argyle’s Jake Jervis score a second at Home Park in August, but the on loan goalkeeper’s overall efforts did not inspire confidence. Little control of his penalty area, poor distribution, and early calls for Dillon Phillips to be made number one.
By the end of the calendar year, however, Amos had most certainly earned the trust of Addicks. A consistent performer, claiming crosses with considerable resolves and making many vital saves, as well as becoming the first Charlton stopper to save a penalty denying Portsmouth’s Brett Pitmam, since Stephen Henderson against Leeds United’s Billy Sharp in 2015. But it his efforts in the victory over Bradford City that not only cemented faith in the Bolton loanee, but confirmed to supporters they had a quality goalkeeper.
Protecting a single-goal advantage at Valley Parade, given to them by Jake Forster-Caskey’s goal, the Addicks found themselves the subject of a late Bantams siege. Charlie Wyke first drawing a fine save out of Charlton’s goalkeeper, diving to his left to keep out the effort as the striker slid in to connect at the near post, but it dwarfed by an extraordinary double save from a corner that soon followed. Matt Kilgallon’s header destined for the top corner, before Amos somehow clawed it away, and then managed to pick himself up to deflect the defender’s follow-up over the bar.
A sensational piece of goalkeeping, assuring victory over a promotion rival. Seemingly a statement of intent, and celebrated by all under windy and wet conditions. Certainly no longer any animosity towards Amos.
Holmes match-winning free-kick (v AFC Wimbledon, 28/10/2017)
Such was its occurrence throughout the month of October, winning while not play well might have actually been a planned tactic.
The majority, during the run, not fearing that the Addicks would ultimately be found out. Instead believing that this was a platform, with points gained and confidence built, from which a talented side would begin to dominate games. The platform for promotion.
But some of the games were a difficult watch. Turgid encounters in which both sides lacked quality. Gritty defending required for 90 minutes, the game not controlled even when in the lead, and a tame attacking threat that meant sealing victory wasn’t possible.
And against AFC Wimbledon, such was Charlton’s attacking threat, it appeared they were going to put in a below-par performance that would result in a below-par performance. Barely a chance created as the game entered its final 15 minutes. In fact, the visitors had had the better openings, with Lyle Taylor exploiting some uncertainty in defence in the early stages, and Deji Oshilaja not long missing a golden opportunity after a corner wasn’t properly dealt with.
But the Addicks have a match-winner. The sort that a club like AFC Wimbledon lack, who can’t turn a slight overall advantage into an actual advantage. The sort that can make a difference, even when the side are offering little to no threat.
A free-kick awarded in a tight angle, hugging the edge of the area so closely that supporters were frustrated the ball hadn’t been placed on the spot. Instead, Ricky Holmes placed the ball into the far top corner. A wicked strike, over Simon Moore in the Dons goal and firing in from a position that seemed impossible to score from, that decided the contest.
Having a player of Holmes’ quality, a match-winner of the standard that few other teams in this division can match, is undoubtedly worth several points a season. A frustrating run of individual form towards the end of the calendar year, but that not putting the impact he’ll have at the start of 2018 in doubt. The winger might well prove the difference between stagnation and promotion.
An excellent academy
Calling an event that occurred with little immediate connection the Addicks a Moment of the Year may, for some, sum up 2017. But a man of the match display on Joe Gomez’s full England debut was not only an individual award, nor one for Liverpool to enjoy. It a reflection of the success of Charlton’s academy.
A debut against Germany from the bench, followed by a start against Brazil in November. An up and coming talent called Neymar kept in Gomez’s back pocket, and the 20-year-old certainly not overwhelmed by the experience, as he’s not been while performing consistently in an unreliable Liverpool defence throughout the campaign. A real moment of pride for Gomez, and for the Addicks.
Success of the club’s academy, and its ability to develop players, celebrated both in and away from SE7 during 2017. Rob Elliot Newcastle United’s number one, and quickly reclaiming a starting place after Karl Darlow’s return to fitness, Ademola Lookman’s making an increasing impression at Everton, and Jonjo Shelvey, when he’s not getting himself sent off, has had pundits purring over his passing abilities. While Nick Pope, though signed from Bury Town as a youngster, feels like one of ours, and has been crucial in Burnley’s successes.
Back in Charlton’s present, and discounting what are effectively U23 sides in the Checkatrade Trophy, 11 academy graduates have played for the Addicks in the calendar year, making a combined total of 129 appearances. Joe Aribo, signed from Stains Town at the age of 19 after 22 appearances for the non-league club, developed into a professional player by the club but not technically academy graduate number 12. Either way, those are mightily impressive numbers.
There the undertone that young players are being forced into first team action as a consequence of Duchatelet leaving the squad short on numbers. So too the frustration caused by the rate in which they are sold, with Ezri Konsa appearing to be the next in that category. But it doesn’t take away from the fact, with talent consistently churned out, the strength of Charlton’s academy produce.
Chris Solly’s 250
A player’s longevity at a single club is almost always celebrated. A player’s longevity through times of strife appreciated further. A player’s longevity when he’s one of your own cements his place as an iconic Addick.
Chris Solly made his 250th appearance in Charlton colours during the defeat to Scunthorpe United in November. From making his debut as an 18-year-old in 2009, with his diminutive figure and youthful face not giving the impression of someone ready for first-team football, to a consistent full-back who has claimed the captain’s armband. The world ‘legend’ is thrown around too easily in modern times, but the academy graduate might well be one.
Reaching such a number of appearances, and performing consistently over such a length of time, is made more remarkable when his injury issues are considered. A knee injury meaning he missed most of the 2013/14 season, and the nature of the issue meaning he’s rarely played two games in a week since. But he remains one of the first names on the team sheet.
And possibly more remarkable still in the context of the Duchatelet era. Players appreciated by supporters, not least those that were part of the 2011/12 title-winning squad, quickly moved, or at least replaced by bizarre recruitments deemed to be better. The 26-year-old has stood his ground.
This Solly’s tenth season in the first-team, having made his debut during the final game of the 2008/09 season. But more frequent appearances followed in the next two campaigns, before becoming a regular during the title-winning season. A testimonial due?
The stoppage-time comeback (v Peterborough United, 28/11/2017)
Charlton were dire for 89 minutes against Peterborough United in November. Decimated on the break by a lively Peterborough front three, struggling to maintain possession, and offering little attacking threat. The two-goal defeat they were set to suffer deserved punishment.
A penalty being awarded to the Addicks, after goal-scorer Gwion Edwards hauled down Jake Forster-Caskey in the box, seemed little more than consolation. Ricky Holmes converting. Defeat still imminent.
But there was energy and intensity, for the first time all night, as play resumed. The players believed, and their belief inspiring the crowd. The Covered End spreading noise around The Valley.
And in the fourth minute of stoppage-time, incredibly, the Addicks drew level in a game that had seemingly been lost. Naby Sarr flicking, on Karlan Ahearne-Grant bundling in at the far post. Incredible scenes of celebration following.
Back to The Valley (v Portsmouth, 09/12/2017)
Appreciation for supporters has largely been a token gesture under the Duchatelet regime, with its consistent efforts to leave fans isolated. The classic “we appreciate the support” from player or coach after a 7-0 defeat on a Tuesday night in front of 238 occupants of the away end. But it was much more meaningful as 25 years back at The Valley were celebrated.
A celebration not only of the anniversary of the first game played back in SE7 after seven years of exile, but of the efforts of supporters to get the club back home. The Valley Party’s success admired and appreciated. A day for Addicks to remember the special role supporters have played in this football club’s history, whether young or old.
Just a shame the players didn’t respond to the occasion. The performance poor, and Portsmouth able to win 1-0. A reverse of the scoreline that occurred 25 years ago.
Continued efforts against Duchatelet, that are reaching a conclusion
While the second part of the calendar year saw protests cease inside the ground, in order to focus attentions solely over the course of 90 minutes on Robinson’s men, opposition to the Duchatelet regime has remained as strong ever.
And for those who protested, who boycotted, or even held opposing positions, reward for them is finally coming. A club that has instigated a disconnection from its supporters about to lose the figures that have caused. An opportunity for change on the horizon.
Katrie Meire leaving her position as CEO in the final week of the year, with takeover talks confirmed. Years of insults off on the pitch, and insulting failure on it, about to reach an end. The relief substantial.
We are, it would seem, getting our Charlton back in 2018.
We are constantly reminded of our status as peasants, but it impossible not to take some sort of pleasure from the suffering of the wealthy in their mansion. Charlton Athletic may be trapped in League One, but Crystal Palace currently find themselves without a point or a goal seven games into the Premier League season. Football rivalry has little logic, and so we are obliged to take joy in the suffering of our rivals, regardless if we do so from the sewers.
Of those seven winless, pointless, and goalless games for Palace, it was their 1-0 defeat at Burnley’s Turf Moor ground that proved particularly pleasing. Not simply because the Clarets had the lead after three minutes and the Eagles spent 87 dominant minutes displaying very few moments of meaningful quality in the final third. Not simply because the sacking of Frank de Boer followed rather hilariously after just four league games in charge.
For contributing to Palace’s problems was a former Addick, thrusted unexpectedly into a top-flight debut. Nick Pope called upon after Tom Heaton, vital to Sean Dyche’s always overachieving Burnley side, dislocated a shoulder with a little over 35 minutes played. A 65-minute spell to assist in the defending of his team’s slender advantage.
But Pope, largely composed and in control, dealt with the pressure of the situation. In particular, saving superbly from Christian Benteke when one-on-one. A relatively prolific Premier League scorer denied by the former Charlton stopper.
And it not only when handed a Premier League debut, against a goal-shy forward line, that Pope has impressed Premier League audiences. The 25-year-old frustrating Liverpool at Anfield as his saves allowed the Clarets to come away with a 1-1 draw, confident and comfortable in a goalless draw of lesser intensity against Huddersfield, and defiant when called upon in a marvellous Burnley defensive performance as they beat Everton 1-0. Just a single goal conceded in four Premier League appearances.
In fact, he has the best save success rate in the Premier League this season. The best save success rate of any goalkeeper in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues this season. Pope rewarded with a new three-year contract at Turf Moor on Monday, and several months more to impress as guaranteed first choice before Heaton returns from injury.
There is delight and joy in seeing Pope’s sudden rise from unknown bench warmer to impressive Premier League newcomer. A rise that mirrors the one he had while an Addick, from flappy accident waiting to happen to confident shot-stopper behind a defence that featured Roger Johnson, Rod Fanni, Marco Motta, and many other Charlton greats of the “shit, we’re about to get relegated, look like we’re interested” era. And one that mirrors his career in general.
For Pope is, of course, not ‘ours’. Not in the same way than an academy graduate would be. Non-league Bury Town have the rights to that claim, and there must be immense pride among those connected to the Bury St Edmunds club to see their former goalkeeper playing in the top flight.
But I sense, and I certainly feel it myself, an element of pride and delight felt among Addicks for the success Pope is enjoying in the Premier League. A young goalkeeper plucked from non-league, one who struggled when first given a chance in the Championship, but gradually grew and displayed the quality that earned him a move to a top-flight club. There’s something about being a supporter that makes you feel part of that development, and you ultimately feel incredibly pleased for him.
Pope one of a number of players who find themselves impressing in the Premier League having, in one way or another, displayed their talents previously at Charlton. Their names, their routes to the top, provide different emotions. Some not as pure, warm and untainted as Pope’s story.
Though in the case of another goalkeeper, and this one an academy graduate, there is certainly the same level of untainted pride and delight. Rob Elliot not just a homegrown player, not just representing the Addicks, but doing so as a supporter. And now, after having to wait a long time for a chance and a horrendous period with injury, finds himself as Newcastle United’s first choice.
He has, unsurprisingly given the character of the man, a very strong bond with supporters of the Magpies, and made himself something of a cult hero despite appearances being relatively few between his arrival in 2011 and an injury to Tim Krul in 2015. Consistently, he’s proven his worth at Premier League level. Darren Randolph, another former Addick who came through the academy at a similar time, is currently the Republic of Ireland’s number one, but you wonder if that will change if Elliot remains first choice for a Premier League club while his former Charlton teammate represents Championship Middlesbrough.
Another former Charlton teammate of Elliot’s, and also an academy graduate, joins the goalkeeper as a current teammate at St James’ Park. Charlton’s youngest ever player, and youngest ever goalscorer, in fact. I will defend the notion that Jonjo Shelvey can pass a ball as well as most other Englishmen with a passion.
The aggression and brainlessness that mares his game frustrates me as much as it does anyone else, purely because he’s unquestionably a player of so much talent and quality, and would be displaying it on a much more consistent basis if he were not so senseless on occasions. It must be said that I’ve only seen three seasons of Premier League football as a Charlton supporter, and so missed out on seeing many of the greats of the modern era, but I’ve seen few Addicks display the quality that Shelvey did. Even at such a young age.
And there will always be attachment to an academy graduate who finds himself performing at a higher level. There will always be a sense of pride, as if supporting and seeing a young player first makes him your son. You celebrate their successes, and feel genuine delight when they display their talents to a wider audience.
Shelvey and Elliot came up against another product of the Charlton academy in Joe Gomez during their previous Premier League game. The exciting young defender now a relative regular for both Liverpool and England U21s, and that coming to the surprise of no one who saw him play for the Addicks as just a 17-year-old. Playing largely at right-back, Gomez even has some Champions League appearances under his belt, though was disappointingly sent-off against Sevilla earlier on this season.
While it only European appearances for another academy graduate so far during this campaign, but Ademola Lookman continues to feature in Everton’s Premier League matchday squads. And with the Toffees struggling, you do wonder how long it will be before the winger will be giving a chance. A chance I have full faith in him to make the most of.
The bonus joy that Gomez and Lookman provide is, in addition to how quickly they’ve gone from teens at Charlton to featuring for huge clubs, that they offer the sense of identity that homegrown talents do in a time when supporters have felt frequently detached. It the case for all academy graduates that make it into the first team, particularly given the continued success of the marvellous academy in SE7, but particularly so when two of such outstanding quality are produced. It factors like these that feel at the core of what Charlton is, and you do feel proud to see the results of that displayed at the highest level.
But with Shelvey, Gomez and Lookman there is another emotion that appears each time you see them perform to a high standard for their Premier League clubs. Your desire for them to do well is not at all marred, but with each moment of success you are reminded that more should have been made of their sales. There no way that their sales could have been prevented – all earning and deserving their moves – but it almost feels like pride is the main reward.
Shelvey, in a time when the Addicks were in a dire financial state, hurriedly sold for less than £2m, Gomez moving for £3.5m, and the £10-11m made from Lookman’s sale has frustrated supporters with its lack of reinvestment. Whether more could have been made of Lookman’s sale is one that brings about debate – an excellent price for a player representing a League One club, but not enough of it immediately used to appease. But I don’t think there’s much doubt that Shelvey and Gomez, without even factoring what they now contribute to the Premier League and only considering the potential they displayed while in Charlton colours, were undersold.
Disregarding the financial aspects of the sales, I think a willingness to feel both pride in a player’s development, and the club’s involvement in it, is increased if the transfer feels like an appropriate one. If the move is an excellent one for the player involved, and Charlton aren’t in a position to deny them in it. Whether that be because of league status, or because a young player is worthy of reward.
Another that falls into the category of accepted transfer, though isn’t an academy graduate, is Johann Berg Gudmundsson. There an acceptance that one of the few players signed by the Roland Duchatelet regime who performed to a consistently high standard would be sold upon relegation to League One, and a move to Premier League Burnley helped to soften the blow. Not only excellent for the Addicks in a struggling side, but seemed to acknowledge the ethos of Charlton very quickly, and as such develop a good connection with supporters.
And so his success is celebrated, and five starts in seven Premier League games after really struggling to hold down a place last season is encouraging. While you would hope that his exploits for Iceland this week, scoring twice as his county qualified for the World Cup for the first time, will help his cause. I’m not sure if being highly supportive of him and Hermann Hreidarsson counts, but if it does, I’m gaining Icelandic nationality and following Iceland this summer.
By contrast, you can find a player performing consistently in the Premier League whose sale brings about anger. It wasn’t just Yann Kermorgant who waved goodbye during that horrendous night at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium in January 2014, signalling the overt beginning of Duchatelet dragging the club into crisis. Dale Stephens also played his final game for the Addicks.
The creative midfielder sold cheaply to Brighton and Hove Albion, when he was the sort of player a side should have been built around if an owner with sound ambitions for the club had purchased it. Sometimes he frustrated as an Addick, but frequently he showed class, and always you saw the potential. That he now has a Premier League opportunity with the Seagulls, having been one of the best midfielders in the Championship for several seasons, is well deserved, and any member of the 2011/12 and 12/13 sides still playing have my intense following and support.
He’s an outstanding footballer, and there’s a real beauty in the way he combines his ability to break up play with creative, defence-splitting passes. But as you watch, watch him doing this in the Premier League while you occupy the division he helped to get you out of six years ago, there is a sense of anger. That such quality should have been displayed in Charlton colours for longer.
You can dig deeper, and find some very dubious examples that probably just make you shrug your shoulders, particularly on the south coast. People telling you that Simon Francis wasn’t actually horrendous while at The Valley got a bit boring after the first time it was said, Rhoys Wiggins’ career post-Charlton has been blighted by injury and he’s currently making use of Bournemouth’s facilities, while releasing Harry Arter as a youngster probably wasn’t a mistake as such, more a case of him managing to turn his career around after a set-back.
Then there’s Francis Coquelin at Arsenal, who I’m fairly sure we’re entirely responsible for, and Kasey Palmer at Huddersfield Town, who Chelsea plucked from our academy while he was already being spoken about very highly. Even Ben Hamer, who appears to spend more time drinking with cricketers of the county I support – Northamptonshire – than playing games of football, but he was part of a side that won a Premier League. Sort of.
A variety of very different former Addicks representing Premier League clubs in quite different ways, summoning up different emotions.
There is, however, a common theme throughout. When Pope or Elliot make a save, Gomez makes a superbly-timed tackle, Shelvey and Stephens play an inch-perfect through ball, or Lookman and Gudmundsson deliver a dangerous cross. If not going as far as pride on some occasions, then there is always joy to be had in seeing former Addicks who served the club well performing at the highest level.
But I would be hiding from the truth if I didn’t admit that Pope’s Premier League performances, rising from the uncomfortable Charlton goalkeeper to composed top-flight stopper, have certainly provided a warm sense of pride.
The Katrien Meire’s CV Award for Capitulation of the Season
Meire, somehow, has continued to obtain more stains on her CV throughout this campaign. The status of her CV continues to capitulate, and there’s been some equally incredible capitulations elsewhere during the season.
- “Learning from our mistakes”
Apparently, the regime, were intent on learning from their mistakes this season. Then went about making the same mistakes again, and again, and again to create another campaign of failure and fan discontent. Impressive.
- AFC Wimbledon
Throwing away an advantage, and what appeared a comfortable one at that, in the final 12 minutes of a game is a mightily impressive effort, even for a tame Charlton side.
The Addicks seemingly heading for victory, having been given an 8th-minute lead by Ademola Lookman, before their defensive resolve completely fell apart. Dominic Poleon equalising, before Tyrone Barnett headed home the winner with five minutes to play.
- Post-Bolton Wanderers
The victory at The Macron Stadium had supporters, and for legitimate reason, dreaming of the play-offs. Such was the fight and determination shown against Bolton.
Instead, the Addicks followed up the win against the Trotters with eight pathetic performances in eight winless games. Late equalisers conceded, tame defeats suffered, and embarrassing efforts from Karl Robinson and his side.
Each moment of fight shown by Ricky Holmes, and Ricky Holmes alone, was followed by an increasingly pathetic defensive capitulation.
The lead that Holmes had given the Addicks on the stroke of half-time thrown away within seven minutes of the second period, with horrendous defending gifting the Shrews two goals in two minutes. Tyler Roberts and Shaun Whalley regaining the home side’s advantage.
And after Holmes, scoring his hat-trick goal in the process, had drawn Robinson’s side level, it took just five further minutes for the hosts to regain their lead. Charlton’s defence offering no resolve whatsoever.
- The financial figures
The saving grace, it was once said, to the Duchatelet regime was that it had brought about financial security. But even that has been lost with the release of the latest financial figures.
A loss of £13.5m, apparently the consequence of spending to avoid a relegation from the Championship that didn’t happen. Spending on loan signings Rhys Williams, Diego Poyet and Yaya Sanogo, and free agents Rod Fanni, Roger Johnson and Marco Motta. Impressive.
Then there’s the £54m debt to Duchatelet and the club’s parent company, being charged at 3% interest. An interesting take on ‘investment’.
- The Valley
The Valley’s increasingly low attendances have brought about great sadness to supporters of the Addicks, but the empty seats exist for only one reason. The failure of this poisonous regime.
Consistently less than 10,000 appearing at games in SE7, and not including the numerous season-ticket holders who are absent. The lack of numbers a reflection of the atmosphere of apathy surrounding the club, created by regime that have destroyed identity, insulted supporters, and created detachment.
Winner: Post-Bolton Wanderers
Genuine hope turned to utter embarrassment in the space of just over a month.
The Charlton 5-4 Cardiff Trophy for Comeback of the Season
Charlton came from behind to record victory only twice this campaign, so most of the contenders for this award don’t involve turnarounds on the pitch.
- Bristol Rovers
Given that the 4-1 victory over Bristol Rovers at The Valley at the start of the calendar year was one of Charlton’s best performances, and wins, of the campaign, it’s easy to forget just how poor the Addicks were during the first 40 minutes of that fixture.
Not only trailing to Jermaine Easter’s 12th-minute goal, but performing without any degree of quality. The visitors not exactly dominant, but Charlton struggling to make the simplest of passes. Struggling to launch any sort of attack.
So to score four goals in the game’s final 50 minutes, completely dismantling Rovers and performing with real attacking quality, is quite the comeback.
- Bolton Wanderers
The basis of Charlton’s fantastic win over Bolton in January was determination once they had taken the lead. But to take that lead, they needed to execute an unlikely comeback.
A goal down, and a man down, against one of the promotion favourites, the Addicks somehow fought to grab two goals before the break. Patrick Bauer’s header drawing the visitors level, before Nathan Byrne’s cool finish in first-half stoppage-time gave Charlton the advantage.
And while it’s the determination and fight shown that makes that victory so special, it wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible turnaround at the end of the first-half.
- Jorge Teixeira
With his Charlton career seemingly over before Robinson arrived at the club, Jorge Teixeira has done well to return to the first-team picture.
Far from perfect, and heavily criticised after the defeat to Shrewsbury, but he certainly became a useful part of the squad.
Oh, and he threw a ball in the general direction of Steve Morison’s face. Which I’m sure we all want to do.
- Tony Watt
Much like Teixeira, Tony Watt’s return to Charlton’s squad hasn’t been perfect. There’s been impressive performances, the occasional goal, and a reasonable level of determination. But so too have there been weak and ineffective efforts.
But he’s done well nonetheless to convince both Robinson and supporters that his mind is with the Addicks after three loan spells away from SE7, and that he his committed.
At the very least, he’s done enough to prove his worth having around going into next season.
- Dale Stephens
Flogged off to the first bidder after Duchatelet arrived, but now a key member of a side who won promotion from the Championship and is now a Premier League player. Wow. Incredible. Who would have thought it?
- Yann Kermorgant
Not good enough for Duchatelet but, at the age of 35, is a talismanic figure for a side in the Championship play-offs, leading the line in typically superb fashion and, at the time of writing, on 17 goals for the season. Wow. Incredible. Who would have thought it?
Winner: Dale Stephens and Yann Kermorgant
How did they manage such impressive turnarounds? It’s almost like they were already bloody excellent players and we should have done absolutely everything in an attempt to keep them three years ago. Weird.
The Karel Fraeye Trophy for Managerial Naivety
The award for the managerial decisions that would suit the ability of Charlton’s greatest coach.
- Russell Slade, for playing Johnnie Jackson and Kevin Foley on the wings
Half a reflection of the lack of numbers in the squad, half a reflection of Slade’s conservative nature. Either way, playing two 30-somethings on the wings on several occasions wasn’t the bald-headed boss’ greatest idea.
As long ago as 2012 Chris Powell said Jackson was no longer suited to playing out wide, while Foley’s pace made his skipper look like an Olympic 100m runner. Both suited to sitting deep in midfield, using their intelligence and composure on the ball to keep the game ticking over, and not attempting to cause a threat down the flanks.
- Russell Slade, for shunning Jorge Teixeira
With Jason Pearce, Ezri Konsa and Patrick Bauer available for almost the entirety of Slade’s stay in SE7, leaving Teixeira out could be justified as just a selection decision. But it evidently wasn’t.
Obviously some issue between Slade and Teixeira that left the Portuguese defender shunned, almost immediately returning once Robinson had been appointed.
And while he’s not been perfect since coming back into the side. Teixeira’s contributions have shown that completely shunning him wasn’t beneficial at all. Slade really didn’t deal with that situation well.
- Russell Slade, for stifling all creativity and intent out of the side
While Slade was in charge, Charlton’s defensive record wasn’t so bad. But that defensive record was achieved at the expense of any degree of attacking intent.
A lack of attacking intent particularly apparent in away games that ended in disappointing draws, as this incredible tally of 18 league draws started to build. Victory on offer in the games against Scunthorpe United, Oxford United and Port Vale, but Slade setting up his side far too cautiously.
- Karl Robinson’s transfer window rant
I’ll just leave this here.
- Karl Robinson, for stubbornly sticking with a 4-5-1 formation, and then a wingerless formation
Robinson arrived in SE7 with a reputation of being committed to what he believed in, and quite stubborn. And that certainly showed in his unwillingness to alter two different formations that quite quickly failed to work for the Addicks.
While the Addicks were playing one up top during the winless run, Josh Magennis or Lee Novak were made to be isolated figures. It no surprise performances improved once Tony Watt joined them in attack.
But soon after, Robinson switched to a diamond formation, that quickly stifled all of Charlton’s attacking intent. So often looking for the option to burst forward down the wings, but it wasn’t there. The performances against Peterborough United and MK Dons particularly dire as a consequence of this.
More than happy to change personnel game-by-game, but less willing when it comes to a formation. In truth, he’s probably inherited a squad that doesn’t suit the football he wants to play but, all the same, he’s not been able to get this squad into a functioning shape.
- Karl Robinson, for having no answer to Charlton’s winless run
At the end of January, it seemed as if Robinson had found the required formula to lift the Addicks on a genuine charge towards the play-offs.
Alas, eight games, and eight poor performances, followed. Eight consecutive games, during which Robinson had no answer to Charlton’s struggles.
He couldn’t address the lack of potency, despite demanding ruthlessness. He couldn’t address the lack of composure in the middle, despite regularly changing the centre duo or triple. He couldn’t address the lack of defensive resolve and overall determination, despite constantly promising his side would be giving more.
And, in truth, the performances after that run came to an end remained concerning. It only in the final weeks of the season, against horrendous opposition, that the Addicks have shown any degree of quality under Robinson’s stewardship.
Still some work for the boss to do to get supporters fully onside.
- Karl Robinson, for playing Johnnie Jackson at left-back
Jackson would play in goal without gloves for the Addicks if the situation demanded, but that isn’t to say shoving him at left-back against Shrewsbury Town was a wise decision.
The skipper playing the majority of his games in that position during his initial loan spell with the club in the 2009/10 season, but his days of being able to play there are long gone.
The decision made even bizarre by how competent Jay Dasilva has appeared since coming into the side during the final few games of the season.
- Karl Robinson, for attacking his players then taking the blame himself
“I’d say 40% of the squad don’t care enough,” were Robinson’s words after the rather pathetic defeat to Shrewsbury Town at the back end of February. His players thrown under a bus.
Then, four days later, after losing to Northampton Town in equally pathetic fashion, it was all his own fault. “If you’re looking for someone to blame then blame me, I have to take that for the team,” he said.
But four days ago, it was all the team’s fault, and you were opening them up to criticism?
Nope. No idea.
Winner: Karl Robinson, for having no answer to Charlton’s winless run
The run that destroyed this season, and made it a totally miserable one.
The Roland Duchatelet Decision Making Award
The award for the worst, most Duchatelet-like, decision of the season.
- Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire for not giving Chris Wilder assurances
Charlton spoke to Chris Wilder before appointing Russell Slade in the summer, but were unable to secure his signature as they wouldn’t give the promises Wilder requested in writing. Slade sacked by November; Wilder a League One title-winner.
Fair play to Wilder, mind. He got himself his dream job, and achieved a superb promotion with his boyhood club.
He was also fairly astute in realising the words of this regime are rarely supported by their actions.
- Roger Johnson for deciding to open his mouth at Bury
There’s a lack of trust at Charlton at the moment, and understandably so. A lack of trust largely between supporters and a regime that has crippled their club and spends a great deal of time insulting them.
But the nature of the regime means that there’s a lack of trust in Charlton as a whole. An unfortunate side effect of that is that questions of player commitment become more frequent. From the mouths of fans, and from the mouths of managers.
So it probably not best, particularly on the first day of the season when supporters are attempting to reengage themselves with their side and develop some sort of trust, for a player to openly insult and criticise them.
“If you don’t fucking like it, don’t fucking come,” were the wonderful words of Roger Johnson come full-time following the defeat to Bury. A sense created after the season’s first 90 minutes of a lack of unity between squad and supporters, and a worrying sign of what was to come.
Might have just been better to have kept your mouth closed, Roger.
- Roland Duchatelet and Russell Slade for failing to strengthen enough over the summer
For the umpteenth season in a row, Charlton entered the campaign with a squad lacking depth and quality in almost every position.
Duchatelet not investing enough, Slade not recruiting wisely enough. A handful of injuries proving near-fatal, players played out of position, and the bench constantly lacking options with young players being forced into the first team picture when not yet ready for senior football.
It no wonder that failure followed. Top six budget? Certainly not a top six squad.
- Roland Duchatelet for going out for a birthday lunch
As Charlton were losing to Swindon Town, the defeat that would see the end of Russell Slade’s time in charge, Roland Duchatelet was out for lunch. But I thought you watched every game, Roland? It’s almost as if the individuals that make up this regime lie. Weird, that.
- Roland Duchatelet and Karl Robinson for failing to spend the Lookman money
A reported £11m made from the sale of a fine young talent, and that fine young talent sold at a time when the Addicks weren’t a world away from League One’s top six. Some proper investment in the squad might have allowed for some sort of challenge.
Alas, the money was not spent on improving the squad, and the second half of the season was arguably worse than the first.
The excuse for not properly spending the money made from selling Ademola Lookman to Everton was that it was being used on the training ground. A training ground development project that has constantly been championed by the regime, and was already in place. Right.
- The club for spending lots on PR and still not being very good at it
Four figure sums apparently being spent by the club on PR, and still Charlton are presented in the media as a failing club, with a horrendous regime owning them. Funny that.
- Katrien Meire, for forcing the POTY dinner to be cancelled
- Roland Duchatelet, each time he opens his mouth
Each time Duchatelet speaks, it confirms two things. The first is that he doesn’t understand a thing about Charlton Athletic. The second is that he hates Charlton supporters.
And each time Duchatelet speaks, he does little but make the situation at the club worse.
- Roland Duchatelet, for not selling the club
What does Duchatelet achieve by continuing to inject his poison through the veins of this football club, instilling failure and insulting supporters at every possible opportunity?
This season he’s achieved the growth of further fan unrest, and the club’s lowest league position for many years.
Hopefully he’ll make the correct decision during the summer. He simply has to for this club to move forward.
Winner: Roland Duchatelet, for not selling the club
Another season of disaster in his hands.
The Roland Duchatelet Missing Person Award
Search parties sent out for these figures, who disappeared temporarily or for extended periods of time.
- El-Hadji Ba
A goal in pre-season against Welling United suggested one of last season’s worst-performing players might actually have a role to play in League One. But El-Hadji Ba’s name rarely appeared again until it was announced that the midfielder had had his contract terminated at the end of the winter transfer window.
Very occasional appearances for the development squad, but otherwise the Frenchman spent the first half of this season in hiding. Probably requiring some time to convince another football club to sign him, despite lacking any degree of ability whatsoever.
Stabaek, who play in the Norwegian top flight, the victims of his plan.
- Ahmed Kashi
Is he actually still alive?
- Jorge Teixeira
Locked away in a dark room while Russell Slade managed the club, Teixeira’s Charlton career was seemingly over before Karl Robinson utilised the Portuguese defender upon his appointment as boss.
It a rather odd situation, that’s difficult to make sense of. With Robinson using him so readily, the cause for his absence can’t have been a financial one, so it either comes down to attitude or Slade simply not fancying him.
Though when Slade would rather use Roger Johnson, I’m not sure it’s attitude or ability either.
- Kevin Nugent
Having led the side commendably during his caretaker spell in charge, his sudden disappearance from the dugout without announce, not long after Robinson appointed Richie Barker, seemed a very disappointing way to treat Nugent.
Despite no longer featuring in the dugout, or among the list of coaches in the programme, mention of his departure wasn’t made until he joined Barnet. He deserved better.
- Katrien Meire
Though it was apparently just a coincidence, Meire’s absence from the directors’ box during the game against Walsall coming at the same time as takeover rumours began was a nice glimpse into the future.
- Roland Duchatelet
- The regime on the final day
Where were they? No Meire. No Duchatelet, of course. Not even Sue Parkes. Almost like they don’t want to face the opposition they’ve caused. Funny that.
Winner: Roland Duchatelet
Hopefully a summer sale means he won’t ever show his face in SE7 again.
The Astrit Ajdarevic Social Media Award
The award for the best use of social media, in honour of Ajdarevic’s friendship with a London taxi driver several years ago.
- Bradley Pritchard
A brief moment of self-indulgence as I acknowledge my growing friendship with Bradley Pritchard. Lovely to me on social media, lovely to me in ‘real life’. Sent me a handwritten letter of support, gave me a lift after a Greenwich Borough game and spoke to me about my health, and continues to take an interest. Fantastic guy.
- Jorge loves Yakult
There’s nothing I love more than a Charlton player informing me I should be drinking Yakult.
- You lot, and the Skipper
I remain incredibly appreciative of the unrelenting support I received after Johnnie Jackson’s wonderful gesture of sending me a shirt. Every message read, every message appreciated, every message having genuine value.
- Katrien’s footballing career
- Tony Watt
For someone who deletes his Twitter account every three months, Watt produces some decent content. Mocking Magennis for his use of inspirational quotes among the humorous efforts.
- CARD announcing Slade’s sacking
A protest group announcing the sacking of a manager before anyone else shows the status they hold.
- Powell for PM
Finding me in near-empty away ends has become an internet phenomenon.
Winner: You lot, and the Skipper
You’re all great, as is the Skipper. Honestly can’t express how important the support from relative strangers has been. Love you all x
Chris Powell’s Flat Cap Award for Journalism/Writing
Especially in these troubled times, writers and speakers provide a vitally important service to Charlton supporters.
- Louis Mendez
With humour, insight and excellent analysis, Mendez has become the ‘go to’ Charlton journalist in the previous 12 months or so. Unless you’re Russell Slade, of course.
Also inspired the #WheresKyle craze, which has swept the nation.
- The team of bloggers
I say team, as appose to naming them individually, because I will undoubtedly unintentionally forget someone and spend the rest of my life crippled by regret and self-hatred. But many of those who blog with Charlton matters in mind provide a marvellous service, particularly at this time when the opinions and feelings of supporters hold even greater value.
- Charlton Live
The bi-weekly Charlton radio show that discusses everything from takeover talks to pets that are named after Charlton players. Yann (the cat) is a huge fan, as are many supporters of the Addicks, who make the Thursday and Sunday shows part of their schedule.
- Voice of The Valley
The long-standing Charlton fanzine, edited by Rick Everitt, provides constant analysis and insight of the inner workings of this rather odd football club, in addition to a variety of excellent articles provided by marvellous contributors. An interview by Matt Wright with Chris Powell, solely about the League One title winning season, among the highlights. Shame that Kyle Andrews lad writes in it, mind. Rubbish, him.
- Getting to Know the Network
The four-part podcast series that revealed the inner workings of the network, and justified the criticism that Roland Duchatelet and his regime receives, is a marvellous piece of work largely achieved by former Charlton media man Jimmy Stone. Revealing some rather shocking details, not least the emails sent by Duchatelet to Chris Powell, containing some excellent and important interviews, and topped off by the emotional final words of the flat-capped former boss.
- Matchday commentary
It is most unfortunate that I have not experienced the matchday commentary of Terry Smith and Greg Stubley, because I’ve been subjected to the events they are retelling with my own eyes, but constant positive words that have been sent their way means they must be included in this shortlist. A commentary duo who keep those who can’t be there up to date in fine fashion.
- Jonathan Fisher’s video for The Guardian.
It’s best you just watch it, rather than I explain it. A superb bit of work.
Winner: Getting to Know the Network
An outstanding piece of journalism, that has revealed so many details that supporters needed to know about this horrendous regime.
The Sebby Lewis Trophy for Supporter of the Season
The award for the best/most committed/most willing to suffer supporter of the season.
- Sebby Lewis, and all those who show their face at every game despite the situation
To follow the Addicks in the current situation is a difficult task, but there remain many whose faces you see at every game home and away. Their persistence, despite the suffering, is commendable.
- My dad
As explained here, my dad has been marvellous this season. I wish I could praise him more.
- Those behind CARD
Organised, creative, committed, determined. Those behind CARD have done a marvellous job as leaders of the protesting efforts. A superb example of fan activism.
- The Belgium 20
The alternative, and more direct, protest group. As organised, creative, committed and determined as CARD, but keeping their protesting efforts between themselves as they travel to Belgium and make life as uncomfortable as possible for our dearest leader.
- Everyone that went to Belgium
More than 250 Charlton fans making the journey to Belgium in order to protest directly against Roland Duchatelet’s regime. What a fantastic effort.
Winner: Everyone that went to Belgium
Heroes, going above and beyond to fight for a better future for a club in crisis.
My Moment of the Season is split between the tribute to PC Keith Palmer, and the feeling of joy come the full-time whistle at Bolton. That joy in some contrast to the pain felt during my Worst Moment of the Season, which is the run of pathetic defeats between the fixtures against Oxford United and Northampton Town.
Meanwhile, my Player of the Season is unquestionably Ricky Holmes. What a superb, match-winning talent, who provided moments of sheer brilliance even during the periods where the Addicks were performing in pathetic fashion. A desperate need to keep him going into next season.
And finally, finally. Some thank yous.
Thank you to everyone that has read any of the nonsense I’ve posted over the season. It’s just a hobby that I put too much time into, this, but every positive bit of feedback I receive is genuinely appreciated.
Thank you once again to everyone that has offered their support and shown any degree of care towards my health situation in the previous few months. I value your support as much as I do the support received from Johnnie Jackson, Bradley Pritchard and Chris Powell. All of it has been so important.
Let’s hope I don’t require such support in the following year, and let’s hope our support for Charlton is better valued and more greatly rewarded next season. Thank Christ that’s over with.
Our Charlton Award for Proudest Moment of the Season
Sometimes, whether it be the club itself, the players, or the supporters, Charlton offer reminders that there’s a proud football club hiding beneath the wreckage.
- Mixing protest and support
The sight of a near-empty Valley is a sad one, and the consequence of an ownership who have left committed Charlton supporters feeling no attachment to the club they once loved. But once again this season, followers of the Addicks have mixed protest and support superbly.
Joining with Coventry supporters, getting Duchatelet a taxi, and taking the protests to Belgium all part of a fantastically committed and combined effort to remove the owner from the club. Combined, also, with passionate support for their side, with examples to be taken from games both home and away.
On occasions, it’s been a case of the side performing and warranting support and no appreciation. On others, it’s been a case of the side frustrating but evidently not lack effort, and encouragement offered.
Either way, when the side have not been so despicable that they have not warranted supported, the support the team not the regime mantra has been followed.
- The academy graduates
The production of talented young footballers has been heavily tainted by Roland Duchatelet’s insistence on selling at the earliest opportunity, but there still pride to be taken in seeing homegrown players wear the Charlton shirt.
Ezri Konsa and Dillon Phillips making their breakthroughs this season, joined by Joe Aribo, who has been developed by the club but having been signed from Staines Town as a 19-year-old isn’t technically a homegrown player.
Contributions, too, from Brandon Hanlan and Karlan Ahearne-Grant, while Chris Solly has remained committed to the Charlton cause and Ademola Lookman displayed his incredible talents before moving onto Everton.
Maybe, once the club is sold and we start to progress again, we might keep some of them for more than half a season.
- Johnnie Jackson’s shirt
A personal one for myself, but Jackson having a shirt delivered to me was an incredible moment, and the response suggested other supporters embraced it as a moment of pride.
Responding to a piece I produced about my mental health and epilepsy, the skipper went out of his way to offer his support, which I valued incredible amounts.
The shirt still holds a place in my mind, and I constantly refer to it to give myself support and a boost. A reminder that someone of Jackson’s important cares, and that I must motivate myself to keep caring about myself and my situation. If I can’t for myself, then for people like that.
- Ademola Lookman’s Everton goal
No real pride in another academy graduate being sold at the earliest opportunity, but that isn’t to say there wasn’t delight in seeing Ademola Lookman score on his Everton danger.
The winger, having come off the bench, converting against Man City. Played through from the right by Seamus Coleman and finishing through the legs of City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. A marvellous start to the Premier League career of a genuine talent.
His only goal for the Toffees so far, but there no doubt there will be more to come. And there no doubt those goals will be warmly appreciated by Charlton fans.
- PC Keith Palmer
There would have been no complaints had the club merely organised a minute’s silence for PC Keith Palmer, the Charlton season-ticket holder who lost his life in the Westminster terror attack.
Instead, the club went above and beyond to honour the life of Palmer, dedicating the match against MK Dons to him and salvaging pride from the saddest of moments.
His red season-ticket seat replaced with a white one, which displayed his warrant number, 50% of ticket sales and 100% of the players’ match fees going to Palmer’s family, and commemorative shirts worn by the Addicks. That in addition to Palmer’s brother leading out the teams, who were joined by members of the police force, for an emotional minute’s silence.
So too will there be a permanent memorial to Palmer by the Sam Bartram statue. The Sam Bartram statute that overlooked floral tributes, and had a Millwall scarf tied to its leg in remembrance.
PC Palmer, he’s one of our own.
- The Upbeats
The Charlton Athletic Community Trust do some marvellous, marvellous work, but it’s the Charlton Upbeats and the matchday dedicated to them that stands out every season.
The Down’s Syndrome team playing at The Valley, and a walk from the training ground to SE7, with Derek Hales and Carl Leaburn among those taking part, helping to raise an impressive £22,000.
But the highlight of it all being those players who, despite being wrapped up in the emotion of celebrating a vital victory, decided to head towards the Upbeats come full-time and hand their shirts over. A really lovely moment.
- Johnnie Jackson, again
You’re lying if you suggest you weren’t at least a touch emotional as Jackson was applauded off the pitch as he was substituted during the victory over Swindon on the final day of the season.
The Valley standing, chanting and applauding a leader, a legend and, in recent years, a man who has kept the soul of this club living.
It not his final game. He’ll serve as a play-coach next season. But this admiration still felt timely and justified.
I really bloody love him.
Winner: PC Keith Palmer
An incredible amount of pride taken from the saddest of situations. The club could not have dealt with it any better.
Flaggy’s Award for Statement of the Season
In what might well be Duchatelet’s last season, the bizarre and insulting comments from Charlton’s failing owner haven’t been lacking. Hopefully they will be followed by an image of a corner flag, and a statement from the club that says he’s sold up.
- Roland Duchatelet – defending his emails
How do you defend outrageous emails sent to Chris Powell about team selection? By calling him stupid, of course.
Having been asked about the emails on a Belgian TV show, Duchatelet responded with “if the coach thinks he can continue without the advice from outside, well, then he is not a clever person”. The advice being “pick the team that we’re telling you despite you being the manager”.
And while you’re there, you might as well call supporters stupid too. Because it’s not as if the club and its supporters are divided enough already.
It’s almost as if the stupid one is actually Roland Duchatelet. Funny that.
- Roland Duchatelet – actors
“These protests have nothing to do with reason. Therefore, whatever we do or say, the core actors within that group will always criticise.”
Two problems with that comment from Duchatelet. The first being that the protests have quite a lot to do with reason. The reason being that his regime are destroying the club.
The second problem is that we’re supporters, not actors. Last season it was customers, now it’s actors. Excellent.
- Roland Duchatelet – bitter ex-employees
The protests, according to Duchatelet, feature “a few hot heads who previously worked directly or indirectly for the club and who were shown the door due to their rebellious and rowdy attitude”.
I’ve never worked for the club. Have you?
- Roland Duchatelet – vinegar pissers
In response to Charlton’s protesting efforts in Belgium, alongside St Truiden supporters, Duchatelet decided that both sets of fans were “vinegar pissers”. A Belgian phrase that apparently refers to someone who likes to moan.
I wonder how it would feel to actually piss vinegar. Genuinely intrigued.
- Sue Parkes – terrorists
- The club – not far sale, to unhelpful
On the Wednesday, the club was not for sale and the priority was “maintaining our League One status”. Inspiring.
By the Thursday, after the Addicks had been linked with a sale to an Australian group, takeover rumours were “unhelpful”.
Personally, I’d say what’s actually unhelpful is your running of the club.
Winner: A combination of all the attempts from Duchatelet to divide club and supporters further
What an incredibly naive and stupid individual.
The Inflatable Trophy for Protest of the Season
Again, the efforts of Charlton fans in protesting against a poisonous regime were commendable.
- A partnership with Coventry, and flying pigs (15/10/2017)
With two clubs who have been mistreated by dreadful ownerships meeting at The Valley in October, the natural thing for their supporters to do was come together in protest.
Charlton and Coventry supporters first marching in partnership towards the ground, before launching inflatable pigs onto the pitch in order to disrupt the game. Their opinions voiced, their situations picked up by national media, and their respective regimes embarrassed.
Additionally, Coventry fans with shirts that spelt out “R O L A N D O U T” and Charlton fans with similar displaying “S I S U O U T” appeared at the start of the second half. This during a game where anti-regime songs were sung unrelentingly by both sets of supporters.
- #TimeToFly (V Gillingham, 22/10/2017)
It was the unexpected element that made the banner that flew over Priestfields in the opening stages of Charlton’s game against Gillingham that made it most impressive. That and the fact it was organised and purchased by a lone individual, and not from the protest fund.
No prior announcement that it would be happening, and the sight of “DUCHATELET & MEIRE #TIMETOFLY appearing over Priestfields causing great delight to the Addicks in the away end.
- An army of banners (V Chesterfield, 29/10/2017)
The home game against Chesterfield was labelled as Free Speech Day, and it meant a number of banners were brought to The Valley, criticising the Duchatelet regime.
From those asking for our club back, to those telling Duchatelet and Meire where to go, and even the occasional one that offered a bit more creativity. A decent effort from Charlton’s supporters in displaying their opposition to a club-ruining regime.
Oh, and of course, there were a handful of North Korea flags displayed around the ground.
To celebrate Duchatelet’s 70th birthday, CARD decided to take a few presents to him in a taxi emblazoned with anti-Duchatelet messages and art work.
Those presents including match tickets and a map of South East London, what with him not coming to games, some highlights from the previous protests, and a black and white scarf. All delivered to his home town of Sint-Truiden.
The protest wrap remaining on the taxi for three months after it returned to England. More embarrassment for Duchatelet and his regime.
- Flying taxis (V Sheffield United, (26/11/2017)
Another attempt to disrupt a game, not long after Duchatelet had decided to make yet another managerial change. A managerial change coming not long after Katrien Meire had once again offered support to the current boss.
Taxis, inspired by the ‘taxi for Roland’ notion, thrown onto the pitch at kick-off, preventing the start of the game against Sheffield United.
- The trip to Belgium (04/03/2017)
While Charlton embarrassed themselves at Northampton, with supporters there voicing their own opposition to Duchatelet, 250 or so heroic Addicks travelled to Belgium to take the protests to the owner’s front door.
Joining with supporters of STVV, another of the clubs he owns that he’s mistreating, the protesting supporters were treated to a performance from The 2 Percent band, marched with their Belgian allies, and spread their message.
Duchatelet unimpressed, but national media again with eyes on the efforts of the Charlton supporters, and further pressure placed on his regime.
- A partnership with Coventry, and flying pigs II (14/04/2017)
The game at the Ricoh Arena between these two mis-managed clubs emulating the one at The Valley, but with arguably even greater meaning. Coventry to have their relegation to League Two confirmed come full-time of the sides’ 1-1 draw, while rumours of Duchatelet being prepared to sell the club had appeared.
A march in unison towards the ground once again, followed by another invasion of pigs. While as supporters of the Sky Blues were forced to accept their relegation, Charlton supporters joined them in chanting for SISU to sell the club.
- End game (30/04/2017)
An odd one, this. The protest on the final day of the season, publicised as the end game for Duchatelet, promised chaos. Chaos that wasn’t really delivered.
Nonetheless, by sheer weight of numbers, the opposition towards Duchatelet has rarely been so unanimous. The Valley standing as one on several occasions as the chant of “stand up if you want them out” was bellowed around the ground.
And as such, the unity brought hope. Hope that Duchatelet would realise there is no way he can continue to own this club, and hope that there would be universal backing of a new regime. Hope that a new dawn is on the horizon.
- The persistence
The organisation impressive and the creativity to be commended, but it the persistence of Charlton supporters that deserves as much praise as anything else.
A second season of protesting against this torrid regime, and still supporters remain fully committed to enforcing change. There never any danger of Addicks just giving up and accepting Duchatelet, and it seems like their efforts might finally be rewarded.
Winner: The trip to Belgium
Total commitment to the cause. A truly impressive effort to take the protest to Duchatelet, with him still hiding away from SE7.
The Fraser Forster Award for Best Performance by an Opposition Player at The Valley
Named after a ridiculous performance from now England goalkeeper Fraser Forster during a League One game against Norwich in 2010, where he probably could have saved a coalition of Charlton, Coventry, Blackpool and Leyton Orient, the award for the best performance by a visiting player this season.
- Tyrone Barnett (V AFC Wimbledon, 17/09/2016)
Throw on a player while you’re 1-0 down with 14 minutes to play, equaliser two minutes later, then turn the game on its head and score the winner for your side with five minutes to play. Quite simple for Tyrone Barnett, really.
The forward’s introduction and AFC Wimbledon’s dramatic turnaround at The Valley in September were not just a coincidence. His physicality making an immediate impression, and contributing to the sense of fear that suddenly overwhelmed all in red.
Not directly involved in the equaliser, but certainly the winner. Charlton’s defending woeful, but his header emphatic and giving the Dons a victory that seemed impossible when he was brought off the bench.
- Ousmane Fane (V Oldham Athletic, 27/09/2017)
This probably the strangest member of the shortlist, for Fane’s performance in the dour draw with Oldham would have been easy to ignore. Playing the holding midfield role, and not necessarily doing anything out of this world.
But half the reason the Addicks couldn’t get going in this encounter was because solid head and long legs of Oldham’s summer signing from Kidderminster seemed to be breaking everything up. Every aerial duel one, every pass intercepted, every ball run forward brought to a halt.
Fane completely dominant in the centre.
- Josh Lillis (V Rochdale, 01/10/2016)
The presence of Rochdale goalkeeper Lillis just as important as Rochdale goalscorer Calvin Andrew in their 1-0 win over the Addicks at The Valley in October.
For in addition to delivering a determined performance throughout the game, standing firm and commanding his area with intelligence and composure, the stopper made a match-defining save to keep out Johnnie Jackson’s penalty at the start of the second period.
- Gwion Edwards (V Peterborough United, 17/12/2016)
Creative midfielder Edwards was lively throughout Peterborough’s 2-0 victory over the Addicks in December, but it his stunning individual goal that gets his name on this shortlist.
Well, stunning if you ignore the fact he’s just ran through a Charlton midfield and backline that might as well have not been there. Running from inside his own half, past red shirts that make half-hearted attempts to stop him, and finishing clinically having entered the area.
- Michael Ball (V Fleetwood Town, 04/02/2017)
The introduction of forward Ball at half-time during Charlton’s draw with Fleetwood in February completely changed the complexion of the game. The Addicks, having taken the lead through Ricky Holmes and knocking the ball around comfortably either side of that 37th-minute goal, suddenly placed under some pressure by a side who had discovered some attacking intent.
And much of that attacking intent coming through Ball. Leading the barrage on Charlton’s goal, which included an effort from himself that floated just over the bar, before Amari’i Bell bundled in an equaliser from a Fleetwood corner during ten minutes of additional time.
But the impressive Ball might well have won it for the visitors, seeing a volley cannon back off the post after Nathan Byrne had been dismissed for the Addicks. A performance that meant Charlton went from being comfortable, to on the back foot for the majority of the half.
- Conor McAleny (V Oxford United, 21/02/2017)
As is so often the case, a former Charlton player who wasn’t particularly impressive for the Addicks decided to have a blinder on his return to SE7.
Not just scoring the winning goal, a driven effort from distance that beat Declan Rudd far too easily, but a constant nuscience to Charlton’s backline throughout the evening. Regularly in behind, and a persistent threat.
- Erhun Oztumer (V Walsall, 11/03/2017)
Walsall might well have come away from SE7 in March with all three points if they had shown any sort of ruthlessness in front of goal. Creating numerous chances either side of taking the lead through Simeon Jackson, but failing to take any of them. Tony Watt’s goal for Charlton, therefore, enough for the Addicks to take a point.
Those Walsall chances were largely created by the quality of Erhun Oztumer. So composed and skillful in possession, the diminutive figure who was once on Charlton’s books kept gliding into pockets of space and sending teammates free down the flanks. It easy to see why he’s so highly rated.
Hovering outside the area, and looking to deliver for his teammates rather than score himself, the wastefulness of his side didn’t taint his performance. But had they been more potent, they would have had a lot to thank for Oztumer for.
- Harvey Barnes (V MK Dons, 04/04/2017)
Having brutally terrorised Charlton down the left flank for the majority of the first half, leading the opposition’s attacks and getting in behind with ease on a consistent basis, Leicester loanee Harvey Barnes helped himself to the goal that his performance deserved after the break.
A simple goal, as those in red stood off the winger and allowed him to double MK Dons’ lead. A dire effort from the Addicks, that teenager Barnes, with his pace and directness, took full advantage of.
- Keith Stroud (V Millwall, 14/01/2017)
A stunning performance from Keith Stroud spared Millwall from their first loss to Charlton since 1996. Particularly impressive when denying Patrick Bauer a perfectly legitimate goal, after Lions goalkeeper Jordan Archer had dropped the ball onto the German’s feet when attempting to clear from his hands.
Winner: Keith Stroud
Well played, Keith. Really impressive. Bastard.
The False Hope Award for Best Home Performance of the Season
Occasionally we threatened to be a competent side. Occasionally we performed well at home. Occasionally.
- Charlton Athletic 3-0 Shrewsbury Town (16/08/2016)
As those post-match celebrations took place, in fact, with great applause from the players, a fist-pump from Slade, and joyous tunnel jump from Jackson and Holmes, it became apparent that this was one of those rare moments under the stewardship of Roland Duchatelet where the damage that has been inflicted upon club and supporters during his stewardship was irrelevant.
Much like it mattered little to the Covered End that Slade lacked hair, the state of the club momentarily mattered little. A rare night in SE7 that was simply to be enjoyed and savoured. The Addicks marvellous.
- Charlton Athetic 3-0 Coventry City (15/10/2016)
- Charlton Athletic 3-1 Scunthorpe United (05/11/2016)
Equally, the celebrations among the home supporters covered the surprise that their side had come away from such a contest with victory. The Addicks not naïve enough to think luck hadn’t played its part in their progression.
But that takes little away from a battling Charlton effort, and certainly nothing away from an excellent display from their teenage gem. Lookman’s performance vital to his side reaching the FA Cup’s second round.
- Charlton Athletic 2-0 Port Vale (19/11/2016)
The sense of crisis around the club meant many, justifiably so, felt capitulation was almost certain today, so to come away with three points that was ultimately warranted is an effort that shouldn’t be knocked.
Warranted because that period of potency in front of goal in the final 15 minutes of the first half was more than Port Vale showed throughout the duration of the game, despite looking the more fluent side.
- Charlton Athletic 4-1 Bristol Rovers (02/01/2017)
But during the game itself, in those second 45 minutes, it was unquestionably the sheer quality of this Charlton performance that grabbed your attention. The maturity and class of Konsa and Aribo, the composure that an impressive Crofts offered, and the improvement of those in wide areas all outstanding.
Though, of course, the unplayable Magennis will take as much attention away from anyone else in this side as is possible. And so he deserves to. The forward simply outstanding, not just in how well he took his goals but in also in his overall play.
- Charlton Athletic 2-1 Scunthorpe United (07/03/2017)
In a period where the veins of this football club are filled with a crippling poison, the brief moments of celebration Charlton Athletic provides to its supporters can be seen as little more than painkillers. A momentary release from a suffering that will soon return.
But the painkillers the Addicks provided on this Tuesday night in SE7 were particularly strong. Not just distracting from the sorrow that comes from seeing The Valley so empty, or simply numbing the pain that Roland Duchatelet’s ownership has made a constant. A real release of relief, joy and delight as Karl Robinson’s side find found a way to record their first victory in nine games.
- Charlton Athletic 1-1 Bradford City (14/03/2017)
On this occasion, the Addicks had done themselves proud. They had performed with pride in front of a set of supporters who have so often been left embarrassed by their team’s pathetic performances. Genuine appreciation for the unquestionable effort, determination and drive of their side over one of the best 45 minute periods of a bleak season.
- Charlton Athletic 2-1 Southend United (08/04/2017)
Those on-the-pitch could not be aware of the importance of their efforts in achieving this victory as they celebrated, not aware that Shrewsbury, Swindon, Oldham, Gillingham, Coventry and Chesterfield had all picked up points. Not aware that defeat, or even a draw, would have left the Addicks on the verge of being drawn into the bottom four.
- Charlton Athletic 3-0 Gillingham (17/04/2017)
A frustration that Dasilva had not been unleashed sooner in the campaign. A frustration that Robinson’s Charlton had not performed with such quality and intent on a consistent basis. A frustration that this was one of a limited number of occasions during this season that a side with attacking potential has provided genuine excitement and entertainment to The Valley crowd.
But those frustrations take nothing away from the positive emotions felt in celebration on this Easter Monday afternoon, as the fears of relegation could finally be forgotten. Nothing away from a dominant victory, that reflected a superb performance from Robinson’s men.
- Charlton Athletic 3-0 Swindon Town (30/04/2017)
In times past and future such performances, regardless of the weak nature of the opposition, would be adored. In times current, it a sideshow to the goal of removing a regime that has performed only acts of destruction and disconnection.
And, though reaffirming the failures of this football club and the regime that there is relief in finishing 13th, it to the credit of this side that they have shown much greater determination and quality following the defeat to MK Dons which seemed to have made them being drawn into the bottom four almost an inevitability.
Winner: Charlton Athletic 4-1 Bristol Rovers
Super Josh Magennis.
The Empty Valley Award for Worst Home Performance of the Season
The Valley’s emptiness, a direct result of Duchatelet’s regime, has been a bleak sight during this campaign. Many performances bleaker.
- Charlton Athletic 1-2 AFC Wimbledon (17/09/2016)
A backline that retreated deeper and deeper, behind a midfield that was losing intensity, and a set of forwards appearing more and more isolated. Their punishment for, first of all, failing to kill the game off while on top and, secondly, declining so dramatically, inflicted as Dominic Poleon rounded Chris Solly in sublime fashion and finished coolly beyond Declan Rudd with 12 minutes to play.
There should have been a driven and determined response, to regain the lead their performance for much of the afternoon warranted, but the Addicks merely seemed to drop deeper and lose even more energy. The Dons confident, committed, and full of intent.
To the extent that you could hardly bemoan previous misfortune in front of goal when Wimbledon took advantage of Charlton’s staggering decline. Substitute Tyrone Barnett heading home superbly from Barry Fuller’s cross with five minutes to play.
- Charlton Athletic 1-1 Oldham Athletic (27/09/2017)
It a warranted equaliser for the Latics, who were able to control the game for large parts of it and played with positivity, but it more obviously just punishment for a horrendous Charlton performance. Josh Magennis’ 22nd minute strike, the result of a 21-pass move, coming completely against the run of play and totally undeserved.
Disgust definitely existing towards that horrendous performance. A performance that saw defensive failings, midfield sluggishness defined by constantly being beaten to the ball and misplacing passes having finally gained possession, and a distinct lack of attacking cohesion.
A performance instigated partly by player failings, but largely by the cautious mindset and difficult to understand tactics that Russell Slade – booed as he departed at full-time – has instilled upon a side that has the individuals to perform to a much higher standard.
- Charlton Athletic 0-1 Rochdale (01/10/2016)
In fact, the only clarity and conviction throughout the afternoon came in the boos that met the full-time whistle, sent largely towards the slumped Slade as he attempted to escape down the tunnel without notice. No brave face and directionless applause on this occasion.
Not even a missed penalty at the start of the second half was a valid reason to suggest misfortune or injustice. Josh Lillis saving well from Johnnie Jackson’s spot-kick, awarded after Ricky Holmes’ burst into the box was halted illegally by Joe Bunny, to maintain the lead Dale were given by Calvin Andrew’s far post header with 25 minutes played.
For Slade’s Addicks, as they have been for several weeks, were truly dire. The desperate punt up field to a lone front man long wearing thin, attempts to move the ball around in midfield far too slow and turgid, while Holmes and Ademola Lookman’s runs forward were without support from static teammates.
- Charlton Athletic 0-2 Peterborough United (17/12/2016)
The final home game of the year it might have been, but more truthfully it was one that was meant to set the tone for what remains of this season. An opportunity for Robinson and his side to prove to the apathetic Valley crowd that there remains value in committing to their side.
- Charlton Athletic 0-1 Oxford United (21/02/2017)
This 1-0 defeat to Oxford United, from the moment the turnstiles were opened until the relatively few Addicks in attendance exited them, a symptom of a disease with only one cure. Mangers, players, positive words; none of those able to put the club into a state of rehabilitation. Only Duchatelet selling the club can provide solace to the empty, and begin to restore.
A fifth fixture without victory, and a fifth fixture largely devoid of any redeemable aspects, increasing the sense that the Karl Robinson experiment is beginning to fail. Another manager, and another set of players, unable to provide on-pitch distraction from the damage that has occurred away from it. A defeat that leaves the Addicks closer to League One’s relegation zone than the third tier’s play-off positions.
- Charlton Athletic 0-1 Bury (25/02/2017)
The booing of this display, a display not enough to avoid a 1-0 defeat to strugglers Bury, a half-hearted expression of disproval, and a more revealing showing of apathy. Not enough energy among home supporters to display the true extent to which they’re suffering. That energy long beaten out of them.
It not just a sixth sluggish performance, and a six successive game without victory, from Karl Robinson’s side that has deflated Addicks to such an extent. It not just those performances that led to a Football for a Fiver crowd SE7 as low as any seen previously. It the consequence of three years of a football club doing it all it can to alienate a group of supporters who deserve so much better.
- Charlton Athletic 0-2 MK Dons (04/04/2017)
Their performance had made anger the overriding emotion on a night where it should have been pride. Their performance reaffirmed a disconnection between supporters and club, on a night where unity and togetherness had been shown prior to kick-off. Their performance embarrassing, on a night where they had all the tools and motivations to make it otherwise.
Winner: Charlton Athletic 0-2 MK Dons
The context of the night making a pathetic performance all the worse.
The Bramall Lane Trophy for the Worst Away Performance of the Season
Bramall Lane the bad trip to Sheffield three years ago. Many bad trips this season.
- Bury 2-0 Charlton Athletic (06/08/2016)
There can be no attempt by Roland Duchatelet, Katrien Meire and Richard Murray to address the sizeable sum of issues they have created at this club, for the damage they have already done is too great. Their half-hearted efforts to heal wounds meaningless when such disillusion, disconnection and anger – the sort that can only be resolved by a complete revolution – exists among such a large number of devoted Addicks.
The defeat, a sluggish and unorganised effort punished by an energetic but less than excellent Bury, a catalyst rather than a cause for such emotion. Anger remerging as those efforts to heal wounds became more obviously half-hearted. A squad, still understocked in all departments for this new season in the third tier, without cohesion or quality.
A squad that, in different circumstances, might well have been given the benefit of the doubt, but not a squad that needs to produce in order to deflect away from the damage that Duchatelet’s regime has done to Charlton. That needs to produce in order to deflect away from severe lack of depth it has.
- Swindon Town 3-0 Charlton Athletic (12/11/2016)
The absence of those away on international duty, all players with attributes that Charlton Athletic desperately missed during their pathetic 3-0 defeat to Swindon Town, provides a convenient excuse for a catastrophic performance at the County Ground. The Addicks could have had the game postponed, and avoided total embarrassment, if it were not being broadcast by Sky Sports.
But the absence of those representing their countries not an excuse for the absence of quality, cohesion and effort among those representing Charlton in Wiltshire. For the complete absence of defensive composure and attacking fluidity. For the complete absence of a coherent game plan from Russell Slade, whose reliance on a handful of individuals to cover both the cracks in his system and his squad was exposed.
- Millwall 3-1 Charlton Athletic (21/12/2016)
And, as such, such a performance, with such a side, in such circumstances, is also a reflection of the state the club has been reduced to during the period in which Duchatelet has damaged it. A weak side, offering little fight, despite supporters valiantly battling on, a regular occurrence, and a symptom of this regime’s reign.
We’ve lost to Millwall before. We’ve lost to Millwall with similar gutless performances. But this a performance not only seen previously against the Lions, but one seen many times by sides constructed while this regime has controlled.
There just a feeling that, in this week where Duchatelet has again insulted and patronised, the efforts on the pitch where a reflection of the lack of connection between the club’s identity and those who operate or represent it. A reflection of the lack of connection between those who operate or represent this club, and determined supporters.
- AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Charlton Athletic (11/02/2017)
But as the game, this scrappy and low quality game, entered those four additional minutes, replays of wasted Charlton chances appeared in the mind. Lee Novak shooting wide when clear on goal, and Shea denying the freshly shaven Tony Watt in spectacular fashion. There needn’t have been emotions of panic and hope; the game could have been killed off.
And maybe more genuine chances to effectively seal victory would have been created had Karl Robinson’s somewhat tame and disorganised side shown greater attacking intent during the contest’s scrappy periods. They didn’t sit back, but nor did they purposefully push for a sought after second.
Maybe with thoughts of the capitulation against Fleetwood in their minds, not wishing to commit men forward and ultimately be caught out. Maybe through fear of Wimbledon’s Tom Elliott, winning almost every header and involved in almost all of the half chances the hosts had created. Maybe simply as a consequence of their own footballing efforts, with attempts to get forward regularly stifled by misplaced passes.
Regardless, Robinson’s men had once again placed pressure upon themselves. Pressure that a side challenging for the play-offs could contend with. The sort of pressure Robinson’s Charlton must contend with.
- Oldham Athletic 1-0 Charlton Athletic (14/02/2017)
The Northern Ireland international’s miss, ballooning the ball over the bar, the catalyst for what was to come. Karl Robinson’s rallying cry, designed to keep this desperate dream of a top six finish alive, completely disregarded.
But, in fact, it was the Latics who would be punishing the Addicks. The hosts, aided by some dire Charlton defending, pouncing just three minutes after Magennis had failed to show the required ruthlessness. Oliver Banks striking first-time from the edge of the box, beyond Declan Rudd’s dive.
- Shrewsbury Town 4-3 Charlton Athletic (28/02/2017)
But Holmes’ efforts had not galvanised his side. His efforts not enough to prevent a seventh game without victory, and a third consecutive defeat. His efforts not enough to prevent the Addicks sliding to within six points of the bottom four, and the threat of relegation becoming a very real one.
Like rare victories cannot paper over the huge holes Roland Duchatelet’s regime has inflicted upon the heart of Charlton Athletic, rare moments of individual brilliance were not enough to stabilise Karl Robinson’s shambolic side.
- Northampton Town 2-1 Charlton Athletic (04/03/2017)
More energy, more emotion and more effort expressed by the Charlton Athletic supporters in attendance at Sixfields come full-time than had been displayed by those representing their football club on the pitch.
“You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” they sang. Loud, passionate, meaningful. The sentiment expressed as vocally as the cries of “we want Roland out” and “Valley Floyd Road” throughout the duration of the contest against Northampton Town.
Such sentiment shouldn’t have needed to be expressed. There was a response promised, one that would show the commitment and character of this group of Addicks after it was questioned by Karl Robinson in midweek. But this sentiment was totally, totally fair.
For Robinson’s men had performed without quality, without cohesion, and without the sort of levels of determination and effort you should be demanding from professional footballers for the eighth consecutive game. And eighth consecutive game without victory. An eighth consecutive game without any degree of pride being shown.
- Peterborough United 2-0 Charlton Athletic (01/04/2017)
Too many people at this club don’t care. Too many people at this club continue to instil failure unpunished. Too many people at this club view committed supporters, hurting that the club they once loved is crumbling, with disdain.
If people at this club cared, if people at this club were competent, the Addicks would not sit four points above League One’s bottom four with six games to play. They would not have delivered an umpteenth performance that offered little quality in the final third, before defensive capitulation gave victory to their opponent.
Winner: Northampton Town 2-1 Charlton Athletic
A choice between Northampton and Millwall. While rivalry makes the Millwall effort pathetic, the fact a response was promised makes the Northampton performance a total disgrace.
The Hillsborough Trophy for Best Away Performance of the Season
The better trip to Sheffield. And, incredibly, some away trips have actually been enjoyable during this campaign.
- Walsall 1-2 Charlton Athletic (20/08/2016)
It was by no means a fluent and faultless performance that allowed Russell Slade’s Charlton Athletic side to celebrate victory with real joy in front of their vocal travelling supporters at the Bescot Stadium, but neither was it fortuitous.
For to call Charlton’s victory, the first immediately following another since November, fortuitous would, though accounting for the chances Walsall created and the occasional moments of luck the Addicks enjoyed, totally discredits the collective application and effort of this side.
- Bristol Rovers 1-5 Charlton Athletic (22/11/2016)
In fact, Karl Robinson might have even felt immediate justification for his decision to ignore all the warnings he would have received about working under Roland Duchatelet’s regime, such was the manner in which the side he will inherit ruthlessly defeated Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium.
Or maybe he would have been slightly concerned that Kevin Nugent had led this group of Addicks to such an impressive victory that his offer of employment would be withdrawn, and instead handed to the caretaker boss. Those that had travelled to the West Country treated to a quite remarkable 5-1 win.
- MK Dons 0-1 Charlton Athletic (26/12/2016)
It not exactly an attractive and enterprising period of football, with this a battle between two underperforming sides. But this a gritty battle that Robinson’s men showed enough fight and resolve to win.
Always on the back foot, but rarely tested, and thrown into a state of characteristic panic on even fewer occasions. Dons left frustrated not only by Dillon Phillips’ timewasting, but so too their inability to break down a backline who had finally discovered some stubbornness. The most un-Robinson-like of victories secured.
If nothing else, this a victory that shows some resolve remains in a group of Addicks who had appeared weak and characterless in the previous week. Enough resolve to win while quality remains minimal.
- Southend United 1-1 Charlton Athletic (31/12/2016)
A game that, on several occasions, should have been put to bed by the Shrimpers, and would have been had it not been for Phillips, along with the occasional bit of Southend wastefulness in front of goal.
It meant that Charlton’s attacking efforts still stood to produce reward. That pressure was still being placed on Southend, and there always a chance of an equaliser despite what appeared a reasonably large gap between the two sides. That Aribo’s quality, including an effort that struck the crossbar, mattered.
But as full-time approached, hope was fading. The visitors lacking something definitive in the final third, and the hosts always threatening on the break. A second Southend goal as likely as a Charlton equaliser, though the advantage the Shrimpers already had appeared enough.
Enough until Aribo found space on the edge of Southend’s area, and found the delivery of real quality that he and his teammates had not been able to produce for much of the afternoon. Andrew Crofts connecting, and volleying home via the crossbar in the game’s 89th minute. Unexpected scenes of joy and relief in a packed away end.
- Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Charlton Athletic (28/01/2017)
Never was there confidence, not least because Rudd was required to grab loose balls on several occasions as full-time approached, but there was a sense that this fight and determination warranted victory. Victory that would be celebrated with every positive emotion imaginable as the referee’s final whistle blew following four minutes of additional time.
The tales of woe momentarily forgotten. The wounds patched up. The mental scarring replaced by unbelievable joy, created by a performance that displayed the fight and pride so often absent of beleaguered Charlton efforts.
The sombre, apologetic figure Robinson was supposed to adopt replaced by a chest-pumping, fist-pumping boss, celebrating not only an incredible win in the context of the figure, but a win needed to keep a fading season alive.
So often left embarrassed by the actions of a poisonous regime. So often let down by a side not possessing the quality and courage to contrast the image created by those above. So often wondering why it’s all worth it.
- Chesterfield 1-2 Charlton Athletic (22/04/2017)
Without a win on the road for almost three months, and with only four previously gained this season, there every reason to make the most of the final away game of this campaign providing a rare moment of joy.
Winner: Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Charlton Athletic
The emphatic victory over Bristol Rovers an excellent performance, but the week of genuine belief and hope that followed the battling display at the Macron means it takes the award.
Part Three to follow (hopefully on Tuesday)
Having survived the club’s attempts to cull any sort of awards ceremony, the annual Chris Powell’s Flat Cap End of Season Awards enters its fifth year. Much to the delight of someone, somewhere, probably.
Probably to the delight of those in contention for The Danny Haynes Goal of the Season, The Johann Berg Gudmundsson Signing of the Season, and The Astrit Ajdarevic Social Media Award. Maybe less so for those up for The Bradley Pritchard Miss of the Season, The Christophe Lepoint Signing of the Season, and The Roland Duchatelet Decision Making Award.
Winners, and losers, over the course of 24 and a bit categories across three posts. The positive moments from this campaign salvaged, and the horrors of this season remembered with something that resembles a sense of humour.
And this possibly the last year where much of the focus will be on Duchatelet’s reign. What is hopefully the approaching sale of the club a moment that would eclipse any other positive event throughout this campaign. Until then, let’s celebrate extraordinary goals, hilarious statements, and committed protests.
The Danny Haynes Goal of the Season
A name change to The Ricky Holmes Goal of the Season is on the horizon. The award for the most visually pleasing strike of the season.
- Ricky Holmes (1st) V Shrewsbury Town (16/08/2016)
- Ricky Holmes (2nd) V Shrewsbury Town (16/08/2016)
- Ademola Lookman V AFC Wimbledon (17/09/2016)
- Josh Magennis V Coventry City (15/10/2016)
- Josh Magennis V Bristol Rovers (02/01/2017)
- Ricky Holmes V AFC Wimbledon (11/02/2017)
- Ricky Holmes (1st) V Shrewsbury Town (28/02/2017)
- Ricky Holmes (2nd) V Shrewsbury Town (28/02/2017)
- Ricky Holmes V Sheffield United (18/03/2017)
- Ricky Holmes V Gillingham (17/04/2017)
- Jake Forster-Caskey V Chesterfield (22/04/2017)
Winner: Ricky Holmes (1st) V Shrewsbury Town (16/08/2016)
It probably had to be a Holmes goal against Shrewsbury, and this one is not only a wonderful finish but also inspired a 3-0 victory.
The Johnnie Jackson Goal of the Season
Goals that might not be so aesthetically pleasing, but have their value elsewhere.
- Johnnie Jackson V Northampton Town (13/08/2016)
There no better way to ignite a season than with a Johnnie Jackson knee slide in front of the Covered End.
The mood of dissent growing as Charlton, following an opening day defeat to Bury and a League Cup loss at Cheltenham Town, went in at half-time a goal down to Northampton Town in their first home game of the season.
But Jackson’s equaliser, though only ultimately rescuing a point for Russell Slade’s side, brought about some much needed belief. A platform for the successive wins over Shrewsbury Town and Walsall that would follow.
- Ademola Lookman V Bolton Wanderers (27/08/2016)
At the time, this felt like a more important goal than it would ultimately prove to be. A late equaliser against a team who, in theory, were going to be challenging with Charlton for an automatic promotion place.
Ultimately, it failed to dent Bolton’s promotion push, and did little to encourage the Addicks mounting one, but Lookman’s 90th minute equaliser still provided a moment of joy in SE7. A clinical finish from the edge of the box, cancelling out Gary Madine’s effort at the start of the second half.
- Lee Novak V Chesterfield (29/10/2016)
Charlton were by far the dominant side against Chesterfield at The Valley in October, but appeared to be heading towards another hugely disappointing draw. No one in red able to apply a finishing touch at the conclusion of these periods of pressure.
Or at least that was the case until Lee Novak converted Holmes’ cross with four minutes to play, giving the Addicks the victory their efforts warranted. Relief-filled celebrations around SE7.
An important goal for Novak, too, who cupped his ear towards a Covered End that had been less than supportive of the summer signing since his arrival. The forward, however, unable to build on that match-winning header. A staggering 21 games without a goal following.
- Patrick Bauer V Sheffield United (26/11/2016)
After the excellent performances in victory over Port Vale and Bristol Rovers, Charlton failed to deliver against Sheffield United in Kevin Nugent’s final game in temporary charge. The Addicks poor, and the Blades should have been ahead by more than one as the game entered stoppage-time.
But Patrick Bauer’s scrappy equaliser, though undeserved, suggested a new fighting quality had been instilled upon the Addicks. Ultimately not the case, but that taking nothing away from the late leveller against Chris Wilder’s side.
- Andrew Crofts V Southend United (31/12/2016)
The Addicks had worked so incredibly hard in the second half of their New Year’s Eve fixture with Southend, but it looked to be for no reward. Simon Cox’s first-half goal still the difference despite Joe Aribo dictating and Charlton being in complete control.
But the minimum their efforts warranted would arrive with a minute to play, as Andrew Crofts, equally as impressive as Aribo in the centre of midfield throughout the second period, volleyed home from close range. Rather enjoyable celebrations in Roots Hall’s compact away end following.
- Johnnie Jackson V Scunthorpe United (07/03/2017)
Eight games without a victory. Attention no longer on fighting for the play-offs, but avoiding being dragged into a relegation battle. Johnnie Jackson handed his first start away from left-back since Boxing Day.
There was only going to be one outcome, wasn’t there? The skipper volleying the Addicks in front from a first-half corner, and celebrating with a trademark knee slide. Not the winning goal on that night, but the scorer and the circumstances meant it was the goal that grabbed most of the attention.
- Tony Watt v Scunthorpe United (07/03/2017)
Not only was Tony Watt’s last-minute penalty against the Iron a match-winning strike and his first goal for Charlton since August 2015, it brought to an end to that run of eight games without victory. A goal that filled a half-empty Valley with copious amounts of relief.
The Jackson goal in the same game highly valued, but it would have been relatively meaningless had the Scot not stepped up and coolly converted from the spot after Jorge Teixeira was dragged down.
Winner: Johnnie Jackson V Scunthorpe United
Yeah, yeah I know, Watt scored the winner. But it’s Johnnie Jackson. And a Jackson goal that inspires a first victory in nine is rather fun.
The Bradley Pritchard Miss of the Season
The award for the worst miss of the season. And given how wasteful the Addicks have been throughout the campaign, there’s plenty of contenders.
- Nicky Ajose a lot
Signed on the basis of his ability as a poacher, but unable to finish when one-on-one. Ajose’s wastefulness in front of goal became an increasing frustration.
- Johnnie Jackson V Rochdale (01/10/2016)
Jackson’s penalty record is…let’s say indifferent. But having converted from the spot against Oxford United the previous week, there were no concerns with him stepping up again after Ricky Holmes was brought down inside the box by Rochdale’s Joe Bunney at the start of the second period.
Alas, Jackson’s effort was a tame one, and comfortably saved by Rochdale goalkeeper Josh Lillis, who also reacted to keep out Josh Magennis’ follow up. Lillis’ save preserving Dale’s advantage, and would ultimately be enough for them to secure victory.
- Ricky Holmes V Gillingham (22/10/2016)
Another penalty, another taker, another miss. Charlton’s record from the spot during this campaign not exactly impressive.
The Addicks a goal down at Priestfield when Fredrik Ulvestad was bundled to the ground by Ryan Jackson following a Charlton corner. A spot-kick awarded, but Holmes’ effort weak. A comfortable save for Stuart Nelson, diving to his right.
Thankfully for the Addicks, a Chris Heard handball in stoppage-time gave them another chance from the spot, and this one wasn’t wasted. Nicky Ajose sending Nelson the wrong way and rescuing a point.
- Lee Novak x2 V AFC Wimbledon (11/02/2017)
Despite leading from the eighth minute, Charlton were never in complete control at Kingsmeadow in February. Their performance far from fluent.
They did, however, have two very big opportunities to kill the game either side of half-time. Both falling to Lee Novak.
The forward curling wide when played through on goal in the first-half, before somehow failing to score from barely six yards out after Ricky Holmes’ deflected shot fell straight to him.
And with those chances not being taken, Tom Elliott’s stoppage-time strike meant the Addicks dropped two points. A stoppage-time equaliser conceded for the second successive week, after the draw with Fleetwood Town seven days previously.
- Josh Magennis V Oldham Athletic (14/02/2017)
A dire, dire Charlton performance at Oldham on Valentine’s Day that deserved no love, but it could have been so different for the Addicks.
For Josh Magennis was sent through on goal within the game’s first minute. Plenty of time to pick his spot and finish, but instead firing over the bar with only Connor Ripley in Oldham’s goal to beat. A huge miss.
And a miss that foreshadowed the remainder of the game. The Addicks creating chances after Ollie Banks, just four minutes after Magennis’ miss, had given the hosts the lead, but lacking any sort of potency. Their wastefulness meaning defeat was ultimately their own doing.
- Lee Novak V Shrewsbury Town (28/02/2017)
Two weeks later, and Novak managed a fine impression of his forward partner. Played through on goal in the opening minute of an away game and wasting the opportunity, with defeat following.
Novak at least testing the goalkeeper with his chance, with Jason Leutwiler forced to make a save, but it just as poor a miss as Magennis’. Driving through on goal, plenty of time to pick his spot, but his effort tame. That his strike was on-target not diverting from the fact it was an opportunity that had to be taken.
- Lee Novak and Tony Watt V Bradford City (14/03/2017)
Charlton’s second-half performance against Bradford at The Valley is a contender for the best 45-minute effort of the campaign. With some composure in front of goal, it would have certainly been the best 45-minute effort.
Novak somehow turning Holmes’ low delivery over the crossbar from basically underneath it, and Watt volleying horrendously off-target from a glorious position after the ball deflected into his path.
A victory that the efforts of Robinson’s men warranted not claimed, because Charlton’s forwards simply couldn’t finish when gifted the simplest of chances.
- Ezri Konsa V Sheffield United (18/03/2017)
Losing at Sheffield United was no embarrassment, but it was certainly a frustration. Partly because the Addicks were so impressive in the period before and after Holmes had given them the lead, and partly because chances were wasted while they trailed.
Ezri Konsa particularly guilty, somehow failing to poke home after the Addicks had fallen behind. Fredrik Ulvestad flicking on Jake Forster-Caskey’s delivery, the ball falling to the teenager on the edge of the six-yard box, but Konsa unable to make proper contact and goalkeeper Simon Moore pouncing.
- Lee Novak V Peterborough United (01/04/2017)
Pritch might well have better qualities in front of goal than poor old Novak. Another horrendous miss, in a horrendous season, in what might well have been his worst performance of the lot.
The forward played through on goal, the easiest of first-time finishes into either bottom corner on offer, but instead a touch was taken and his shot ultimately blocked. Dreadful, dreadful decision making, and followed by a capitulation from his side that allowed Peterborough victory.
- Jake Forster-Caskey V Chesterfield (22/04/2017)
A third missed penalty of the season, though this one genuinely provided a degree of hilarity.
With Chesterfield chasing a late equaliser, and as such a dramatic turnaround after the Addicks had led by two goals for much of the second half at the Proact, the award of a penalty for Charlton had seemingly secured all three points.
The visiting supporters chanted for Johnnie Jackson to take, Ricky Holmes seemingly felt like it was his, but Forster-Caskey had the ball in his hands. Forster-Caskey placed the ball on the spot. Forster-Caskey placed a tame penalty into a position for goalkeeper Thorsten Stootman to save.
The final whistle, thankfully, blowing straight after. A bit of a weird game, ending in very strange fashion.
Winner: Lee Novak and Tony Watt V Bradford
Quite remarkable misses that meant arguably Charlton’s best performance of the season didn’t end with victory.
The Christophe Lepoint Signing of the Season
The award for the most disappointing, misused, or simply the worst arrival during this campaign.
- Nicky Ajose
What do you expect when you sign a player who had scored 24 league goals in the previous season? Goals. What did Nicky Ajose provide? Frustration.
Ajose not a failure, but a huge disappointment. Goals at League One level, pace, and Josh Magennis as a partner should have given the Addicks a prolific forward. But not only was his overall play poor, far too many chances were wasted. Ultimately, there was little faith he would finish when in promising positions.
Goals scored since returning on loan to Swindon, though only five in 20 games, and maybe more faith should have been placed in Ajose. But his disappointing efforts in Charlton red did provide justification for the club’s decision to send him back to his former club. An exciting signing that hugely underwhelmed.
- Lee Novak
Signed not only on the back of a 14-goal season while on loan at Chesterfield, but with the knowledge that he’s a dependable performer at this level. Lee Novak, however, has provided neither goals, nor dependable performances.
The forward, snapped up following his release by Birmingham City, has admitted himself that this is the worst season he’s ever had. The occasional injury contributing to that, but more so his overall performances.
Despite being built in the mould of a target man, he’s struggled to win headers or hold up the ball, his effort has been questionable, and his finishing has been incredibly poor.
A moment where he held his ear out to the critical Charlton supporters after scoring against former loan club Chesterfield was supposed to kick-start his career as an Addick. Instead, it’s only got worse.
- Kevin Foley
The sort of signing that, with Charlton supporters promised a top-six budget and a top-six finish as a minimum, really shouldn’t have needed to be made. The 31-year-old Foley handed a six-month contract after spending a period in the summer on trial, and providing cover in a number of positions.
Competent enough at right-back, but particularly dreadful in the centre of midfield and on the wing. A cheap addition that added no quality to the squad, and was allowed to leave at the first opportunity.
- Jay Dasilva (bear with me)
Dasilva proved his qualities in the final few games of the season, but for long periods signing the left-back on loan from Chelsea didn’t seem worthwhile for him, for his parent club, or the Addicks.
Arriving with many offering high praise and seemingly possessing a strong reputation, the teenager was supposed to be an exciting addition to Charlton’s squad.
Instead, being subbed off after being subbed on during his debut against Milwall set the tone for what was seemingly a rather pointless loan spells. An unused sub 12 times, Robinson preferring to use Jackson at left-back rather than him, and no starts before April.
His efforts once getting a run in the side, however, were mightily impressive, and certainly confirm he’s not winning this award. That he’s up for it a result of the fact he was hidden away for so long, and as such the most was not made of his signing. It not a consequence of his talents.
- Lewis Page
There every chance that left-back Page will come good, and so including him in this shortlist isn’t to suggest his signing was a poor one. But the January addition from West Ham has endured a terrible start to life as an Addick.
His first two appearances lasting 28 and 11 minutes respectively. An injury against Millwall followed by a red card early on in the victory over Bolton Wanderers.
Then upon his return after suspension, a return that was constantly interrupted by niggling injuries, the left-back failed to deliver convincing performances. Promising going forward, but often appearing uncomfortable in defence.
And finally, an unfortunate fall during the game against Bradford City led to a torn hamstring and his season ending prematurely.
Only 20, so there’s plenty of time for him to develop, but it’s not been a great first four months in SE7 for Page.
Winner: Lee Novak
Experienced Football League forward performing like an experienced non-league forward given a chance he didn’t deserve. Incredibly disappointing.
The Johann Berg Gudmundsson Signing of the Season
The award for the best new addition of the campaign. Named after that rare thing – a positive signing made by Roland Duchatelet’s regime.
- Adam Chicksen
Seemingly just a cheap replacement for the departed Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, providing cover at left-back without having to spend, Adam Chicksen was instead a reliable figure for the Addicks after arriving on a free-transfer in August.
Providing a consistency that many of his teammates lacked throughout the campaign, Chicksen proved a steady performer both at full-back and in a slightly unfamiliar position on the left wing. His disappearance from the side in the final weeks of the season, however, suggests he might not be an Addick going into the next one.
- Ricky Holmes
In possessing ability that far exceeds any of his teammates, and having the qualities to win matches on his own with extraordinary moments of genius, Holmes has been a direct replacement for Gudmundsson.
There encouragement and excitement each time he powers down either flank, his deliveries testing, and the Addicks would have struggled even more this season without his goal-scoring attributes. A vital signing from Northampton Town in the summer.
From scoring two incredible goals in the home victory over Shrewsbury Town to scoring a superb individual hat-trick while the rest of those in red delivered a pathetic performance in the away defeat to Shrewsbury Town, Holmes has been marvellous in all situations.
- Josh Magennis
The summer signing from Kilmarnock has blown hot and cold throughout the campaign, but when Magennis has blown hot, he has been almost unplayable.
The first Charlton forward with the ability to hold the ball up and consistently win aerial duels since a certain Frenchman, the Northern Ireland international is also surprisingly good on the ball for someone in the target man mould. A hard-worker in tight affairs, and a man that can carry a side to victory in more open games.
His performance in the goalless draw away at Bradford not needing a goal to be considered a perfect one, while his efforts to score three against Bristol Rovers were superb.
The goals drying up since that hat-trick, with a combination of injury and weak performances holding him back, but Magennis has impressed in the final few weeks of the season and still done enough to warm himself to supporters.
- Jason Pearce
In periods throughout the campaign, Patrick Bauer, Jorge Teixeira and Ezri Konsa have all performed commendably at centre-back. But at no period has any combination of those three left you feeling totally comfortable.
The composure, experience and leadership of Jason Pearce has been desperately missed since the summer signing from Wigan suffered a serious groin injury during the draw at Valley Parade.
A real shame that what appeared an excellent signing was unavailable for the best part of four months. His presence next season will undoubtedly be important.
- Fredrik Ulvestad
Dropping to centre-back against Walsall and still performing flawlessly just about sums up Fredrik Ulvestad. The Norwegian midfielder, on loan from Burnley, has merely got his head down and performed irrespective of what has been asked of him.
Few thrills, but a consistent performer in an inconsistent team. A figure you can rely on.
- Stephy Mavididi
It probably says something about Charlton’s efforts in the transfer market that one of the better additions in recent seasons was an 18-year-old loanee who made just five appearances, two of which were from the bench.
But Stephy Mavididi, having joined from Arsenal on a temporary basis without a professional performance to his name, was a breath of fresh air during a grim period. His pace, directness and trickery an antidote to the stale performances the Addicks were delivering during the eight-game winless run, with his incredible run from inside his own penalty box against Rochdale the highlight.
A real shame injury cut short his spell in SE7.
Winner: Ricky Holmes
An extraordinary match-winner.
The Yann Kermorgant Performance of the Season
The award for the best individual performance of the campaign.
- Ricky Holmes V Shrewsbury Town (16/08/2016)
How do you go about displaying your ability to supporters of the club you’ve recently signed for? By inspiring your new side’s first victory of the season with two incredible goals, of course.
Holmes leading the first-half siege that blew away Shrewsbury at The Valley in August, and secured the first win of Russell Slade’s reign before the half-time whistle had been blown.
His first an unstoppable effort from distance, driving forward with intent before curling beyond Shrewsbury stopper Jason Leutwiler. The sort of goal required to ignite a season that had started in stale fashion.
His second, coming after Johnnie Jackson had bundled the ball over the line to double Charlton’s advantage, coming directly from the corner. But given Holmes’ maverick qualities, there were few suggesting it was a complete fluke.
And to go along with those goals, there was a performance of direct running and superb skill that meant, even when the Addicks took their foot off the gas somewhat after the interval, each attack felt like a threatening one. The first genuine sighting of the ability Holmes possessed.
- Josh Magennis V Coventry City (15/10/2016)
This was, in the intense atmosphere that an afternoon of protest provides, the first occasion in which Magennis made visible his ability to be an unplayable centre forward.
For it was not just his direct involvement in two of Charlton’s three goals, setting one up and scoring another, that impressed, but an overall performance that saw the Northern Ireland international bully Coventry’s backline.
Great strength and intelligence shown to hold up each ball knocked forward in his direction, aerial contests consistently won, and the Sky Blues allowed no time whatsoever in possession inside their own half with Magennis pressing unrelentlessly.
And it was through applying such pressure that Magennis made Charlton’s decisive second goal. Robbing Jordan Turnbull of the ball, and squaring for Ademola Lookman to finish.
The goal of his own that his efforts warranted followed, with Fredrik Ulvestad’s ball over the top superbly knocked around Mark Ricketts, and the forward finishing coolly. A marvellous finishing touch, and a marvellous finishing touch to an excellent performance.
- Ademola Lookman V Scunthorpe United (05/11/2016)
Only actually playing because of an injury to Ricky Holmes midway through the first-half, Ademola Lookman’s excellent performance from the bench inspired Charlton’s FA Cup victory over Scunthorpe in November.
The teenager rested for the cup tie, though there was an argument he might have been dropped after a handful of disappointing performances prior to the game, but Lookman brought what had been a dire display from the Addicks to life within seven minutes of being introduced. The ball falling to him on the edge of the box, a touch taken, before picking out the top corner with a stunning finish.
And having been beating his man with regularity and appearing a constant threat, the winger confirmed Charlton’s place in the second round of the competition with seven minutes to play. Pressure on the Addicks after Tom Hopper had halved the two-goal advantage giving to the hosts by Johnnie Jackson, but Lookman’s one-on-one finish, having been played through by Ulvestad, eased nerves.
- Dillon Phillips V Sheffield United and Bradford City (26/11/2016, 10/12/2016)
Young goalkeeper Phillips proved he’s capable of performing at League One level during his brief stint in the starting XI, not least in his determined efforts against Sheffield United and Bradford City in successive league games.
His performance against the Blades allowing Patrick Bauer to rescue a point for the Addicks. Charlton poor, and really should have been several goals behind before the German equalised late-on, but Phillips’ fingertips kept them in the game. Saving well from John Fleck and Mark Duffy, among others.
While his efforts during the trip to Valley Parade aided a determined performance from Karl Robinson’s side, and contributed heavily towards them coming away from Bradford with a point. An excellent point-blank save to deny Jordy Hiwula the highlight.
A suggestion has been made that Declan Rudd may remain an Addick, but there would be no panic if his loan spell isn’t turned into a permanent transfer. Not merely because Rudd has been inconsistent, but because Phillips’ quality was obvious during his spell in the starting XI.
- Joe Aribo V Southend United (31/12/2016)
That a stoppage-time equaliser, scored by Andrew Crofts, was required at Roots Hall in Charlton’s final game of 2016 suggests an element of good fortune was involved in the Addicks coming away from Southend with a point.
But Robinson’s side were dominant during the second half, and had long been pressing for the goal that would have cancelled out Simon Cox’s first-half effort. A dominance led by a 20-year-old in his third game of League football.
Joe Aribo in complete control in midfield. Breaking up play with ease, looking assured in possession, and contributing to what were becoming persistent Charlton attacks. This relatively inexperienced figure the central figure of this contest.
Crofts’ equaliser a reward for Aribo’s efforts, as much as Charlton’s in general.
- Josh Magennis V Bristol Rovers (02/01/2017)
An unplayable performance from the big man that made his efforts against Coventry appear barely noteworthy. An outstanding overall display, topped off by the small matter of scoring three times as the Addicks came from behind to beat Bristol Rovers.
His first of the afternoon, left unmarked from a Joe Aribo free-kick on the stroke of half-time and allowed to cancel out Jermaine Easter’s opener for the visitors, coming somewhat against the run of play. But from that moment forth, the Northern Ireland international took control of the contest.
A second for the forward arriving just five minutes after the interval, and in similar fashion. An Aribo free-kick, Magennis unmarked, and the back of the net found with a powerful header.
But, as was the case against the Sky Blues, his involvement in Charlton’s goals merely added to his overall efforts. Once again bullying an opposition backline, making almost every ball played forward his own, and winning almost every aerial battle.
That, however, is not to suggest his hat-trick goal, coming after Jorge Teixeira had doubled his side’s lead, wasn’t the highlight of his performance. Marvellously taking down Andrew Crofts’ ball over the top, and curling superbly into the far corner. The game Charlton’s, and the match-ball his.
- Patrick Bauer V Bolton Wanderers (28/01/2017)
The BFG not simply featuring on this shortlist because he scored the equaliser in the impressive victory at the Macron Stadium in January, but because his defensive performance was as defiant as they come.
But his equaliser did play a part in creating the situation in which his defensive efforts were so important. The Addicks not only trailing to Zach Clough’s excellent free-kick when Bauer turned in Jake Forster-Caskey’s delivery, but also a man down. Lewis Page sent off for conceding the free-kick that Clough scored from.
By half-time, however, the visitors had the most unlikely of leads at the Macron. Nathan Byrne finishing coolly, but victory still seeming like an unlikely outcome. A half to hold on with ten men against one of the division’s best sides.
But Charlton’s backline, led by Bauer, restricted the Trotters to no genuine opportunities as they searched for an equaliser throughout the entirety of the second period. Every header won, countless crunching tackles, and composure in possession.
An incredible team effort to record victory, but Bauer’s defensive determination at the heart of this win.
- Ricky Holmes V Shrewsbury Town (28/02/2017)
While his teammates embarrassed themselves, leading to Karl Robinson questioning whether they cared enough, Ricky Holmes went about single-handedly giving Charlton a chance of salvaging something from a performance that deserved nothing at Shrewsbury in February.
A hat-trick of real quality in complete contrast to the collective performance, and as such made all the more impressive. Impressing in a side that showed little effort, defensive composure, or attacking intent.
In fact, Holmes overturned the deficit that Louis Dodds inflicted upon the Addicks all by himself. A wonder goal drawing the visitors level, before a spectacular free-give on the stroke of half-time gave Charlton a lead their overall efforts quite frankly didn’t deserve.
And when the collective had received the sort of punishment they had long deserved, with Tyler Roberts and Shaun Whalley scoring over the space of two second-half minutes, it was Holmes who produced an equaliser that didn’t seem to be coming. His hat-trick coming with a ruthless finishing, drilling the ball into the bottom corner after being teed up by Karlan Ahearne-Grant.
That Holmes’ incredible effort meant nothing, with Dodds restoring’s Shrewsbury’s lead five minutes later, is the perfect reflection of just how dire the Addicks were aside from the winger. An awesome performance, lost in a disgrace display.
- Johnnie Jackson V Scunthorpe United (07/03/2017)
There is no one at this football club I trust more than Johnnie Jackson. No one that can inspire in the way the skipper does. No one for who the club means as much as it does to supporters.
So it no surprise, therefore, that a captain’s performance from Mr Charlton was the foundation from which the Addicks ended their dire run of eight games without victory or a reasonable performance. Jackson injecting a bit of fight into a side that had seemingly lost all motivation and effort.
The moment of inspiration coming with the goal that gave the Addicks the lead against Scunthorpe just beyond the half hour. Volleying home from a corner, and delivering a trademark kneeslide in front of the East Stand.
But the skipper provided so much more than just a goal. Both composure in possession, and genuine determination without it. It often suggested he no longer has the legs to play regularly, but his presence in midfield that night brought it alive.
The need for Tony Watt to convert from the spot to give the Addicks victory, after a second-half capitulation had allowed Scunthorpe to equalise and appear like the side most likely to score the winner, diverted from the script slightly. Jackson’s goal not the winner.
But that didn’t deny the skipper moments of celebration come full-time with the Covered End, and an almighty tunnel jump. Particularly impressive considering he had given everything, and there was nothing left in his legs.
- Declan Rudd V Southend United and Coventry City (08/04/2017 and 14/04/2017)
Back-to-back performances from Rudd that won his side points were particularly impressive after a torrid couple of months preceding the games against Southend and Coventry. The mistakes put behind him, and numerous important saves made.
In a determined effort from the collective against the Shrimpers to achieve a victory that simply had to be achieved, the efforts of Rudd in Charlton’s goal cannot be underestimated.
A marvellous bit of goalkeeping to halt Stephen McLoughlin when through on goal, an excellent save from the same man’s late free-kick, and claiming cross after cross that came into his box. His composure and decision making much improved upon previous weeks. The determined effort that backed up the determined effort.
And that followed by a performance at the Ricoh that saved the Addicks from a defeat that their lacklustre effort probably deserved. Superb saves from George Thomas and Jodi Jones in particular, when both men were allowed through on goal by a non-existent Charlton midfield and defence, to prevent the Sky Blues doubling, and regaining, their advantage.
- Jay Dasilva V Gillingham (17/04/2017)
Having been hidden away for so long, Chelsea loanee Dasilva made the most of an opportunity to display his talents in the first-team with a marvellous performance in the victory over Gillingham.
Despite being defensively sound, and recovering in the moments when he wasn’t, it was his attacking play that particularly impressed. An excellent run that resulted in him being chopped down on the edge of the Gillingham box, with Ricky Holmes scoring from the resulting free-kick, the highlight of an excellent performance bombing down the left flank.
And the diminutive full-back, despite not stopping for a second all game, even had the energy to perform the tunnel jump come full-time. Impressive.
- Ricky Holmes V Swindon Town (30/04/2017)
Given the comprehensive nature of it, you could make arguments for several players making their way onto this shortlist from the win over Swindon. But Charlton’s POTY ended the season by displaying the class that has one Charlton points, or at least given them a degree of pride, on so many occasions this season.
A constant threat, his footwork incredible, and a 13th goal of the campaign to wrap things up. Lock him in a cupboard for the summer.
Winner: Josh Magennis V Bristol Rovers
A toss up between Magennis’ efforts against Bristol Rovers and Holmes’ performance away at Shrewsbury. But as Magennis’ hat-trick contributed to victory, we’ll got with that.
The Yohann Thuram Performance of the Season
The award for the worst impersonation of a professional footballer on a given matchday.
- Roger Johnson V Bury (06/08/2016)
Not only were his defensive efforts dire in a dreadful team performance, with the Addicks losing to Bury on the opening day of the season, but Roger Johnson decided to cement the hatred for him among supporters following the full-time whistle.
“If you don’t like it, don’t fucking come,” were his insightful words to furious fans who had every right to feel aggrieved following their side’s display. Supporters that continue to follow their side over large distances despite the state of the club.
That he’ll never play for the club again is a cause for celebration.
- Andrew Crofts V Oldham Athletic (27/09/2016)
Crofts’ performances in Charlton red, though not consistently, improved as time went on. But in his first few months as the Addick, the midfielder was unreliable at best.
Not least against Oldham, where the Latics midfield were allowed to dominate. Tame in possession, misplaced passes constant, and challenges persistently one by the visiting midfield.
To the extent that this weak, relegation threatened Oldham outfit were the stronger side for much of the game in SE7, and the weakness that Crofts contributed to in midfield ultimately that their late equaliser was thoroughly deserved.
- Morgan Fox V Swindon Town (12/11/2016)
Personally, I was never one to criticise Morgan Fox too heavily. There always a mistake in him, but a better player than many attempted to make out.
However, his performance in the defeat to Swindon that cost Russell Slade his job was particularly dire, and not simply because he was credited with a rather unfortunate own goal. Offering no defensive resilience whatsoever, beaten time and time again down the flank, and unable to contribute going forward.
Immediately redeeming himself with two superb performances under Kevin Nugent’s leadership, but his efforts at the County Ground were embarrassingly poor.
- Ezri Konsa V Millwall (21/12/2016)
Academy graduate Konsa has been this season’s breakthrough player, performing with maturity, consistency and quality whether asked to play at centre-back or in a deep midfield role. An outsider would never guess that someone so composed in their play is still a teenager.
But the night where Konsa lost his composure was unfortunately an important one. Filling in at right-back, the 19-year-old endured a torrid night at The Den.
Not only persistently being caught out of position and beaten with ease by Millwall’s Aiden O’Brien, but finding himself at fault for the Lions’ second goal. A weak clearance allowing the hosts to get the ball back into the box, Konsa slipping, and Steve Morison allowed the simplest of opportunities to volley home his regular goal against the Addicks.
A bleak night in Bermondsey, with Millwall claiming a 3-1 win over a Charlton side that was absent of the required fight, and Konsa’s error-prone performance a reflection of the lack of quality. Thankfully not something he has even come close to repeating throughout his debut campaign.
- Patrick Bauer V AFC Wimbledon (11/02/2017)
Bauer has been a relatively reliable performer for the Addicks this season, which is high praise for a member of a defence that has so often found barely believable ways to capitulate.
But every so often, there have been afternoons and evenings where the big German himself has struggled. Most commonly when facing a tall, physical centre-forward.
And that was the case at Kingsmeadow in February, where have struggled to deal with Tom Elliott throughout the 90 minutes and showing little composure, Bauer lacked the defensive defiance to prevent AFC Wimbledon’s forward from stealing a stoppage-time equaliser.
On this occasion, no where near challenging Tyrone Barnett as he flicked on, and Elliott was allowed to race through and score. A poor day at the office for Bauer, culminating in his role in Wimbledon’s leveller.
- Josh Magennis V Oldham Athletic (14/02/2017)
Not only did Josh Magennis waste a glorious opportunity to put the Addicks ahead within the first few seconds at Boundary Park, but his overall performance on Valentine’s Day was dreadful.
Evidently rushed back too soon after injury, the forward looked well off the pace, lacking the physical and aerial he normally possesses, not least a finishing touch. Jake Forster-Caskey sending the Northern Ireland international through on goal with 12 seconds played, only for the ball to be looped over the bar.
And Charlton’s attempts to compete in a game they ultimately lost 1-0 were hindered heavily by the general lack of presence Magennis provided up top. A real weak effort from the summer signing.
- Jorge Teixeira V Shrewsbury Town (28/02/2017)
When Karl Robinson claimed that 40% of his side didn’t care enough following the defeat to Shrewsbury, the minds of Charlton supporters began to consider who might be among that number.
And the man most obvious was the man who had performed the poorest at the New Meadow. Jorge Teixeira an absolute shambles, constantly allowing the Shrews through, and offering little effort or defensive resilience.
The Portuguese redeemed himself slightly in his performances in the weeks that followed, but his efforts on that night were simply a disgrace.
- Declan Rudd V Bradford City (14/03/2017)
Unfortunately for Rudd, who was reliable between the posts during the first few months of the season, there were several performances during the period between February and the start of April that might have featured in this shortlist. Mistake after mistake.
But against Bradford not only was there a lack of excellent saves to accompany his mistake as had been the case elsewhere, his error was a vital one. Palming Mark Marshall’s shot straight to Timothee Dieng, who headed over the line.
Dieng’s goal an equaliser, and an equaliser that meant one of Charlton’s best performances of the season ended with the Addicks claiming just a point. Rudd apologetic at full-time.
- Lee Novak V Peterborough United (01/04/2017)
The fact Novak felt the need to hold his hands up in apology as he was substituted during the defeat to Peterborough at London Road reaffirms just how dire an effort this was from the forward.
A horrendous miss from the summer signing with scores level, taking too long in possession after being played through on goal and ultimately seen his shot blocked by a combination of Posh goalkeeper Luke McGee and captain Michael Bostwick.
It the worst moment of an embarrassing performance from Novak, who seemed to lost every aerial challenge and misplace every pass. To the extent that there were chants for him to be substituted, and boos when it was Tony Watt who was initially sacrificed for Josh Magennis.
Cheers from the away end, and a signal of apology from the player, once the forward was removed.
- Tony Watt and Josh Magennis V MK Dons (04/04/2017)
On a night where the Addicks showed pride off the pitch, in their remembrance of PC Keith Palmer, forwards Tony Watt and Josh Magennis showed absolutely nothing.
In truth, some sympathy can be had for them, with Charlton’s performance in midfield meaning their was no service for them. But they were anonymous. Failing to win or hold up the ball, losing possession far too easily, and wasting the only chances that did come their way.
Watt particularly guilty of that. A horrendous missed header at the far post following Jay Dasilva’s header, preventing any chance of a Charlton fightback.
Winner: Lee Novak v Peterborough
A performance that summed up just how poor and disappointing Novak has been since his summer arrival.
The Chris Powell Award for Coach of the Season
As ever under the Duchatelet regime, there’s plenty of coaches to choose from.
- Russell Slade
Hasn’t got hair. Originally we didn’t care. Then it emerged that not only did his head contain no hair, but also lacked tactical intelligence.
His football never exactly appealing, but there were improvements in results and performances before the defeat at Swindon Town that led to his sacking. As with any figure that becomes Charlton manager, he was a little unfairly treated.
- Kevin Nugent
The seven points that Kevin Nugent picked up during his caretaker spell in charge gained increasing significance as Charlton’s winless run throughout February went on. Seven points that meant the Addicks were always just about far enough above the relegation zone to avoid complete meltdown. Deserves plenty of credit, and certainly didn’t deserve to effectively be hidden away before getting the Barnet job.
- Chris O’Loughlin
Not quite sure I’ve ever actually see him do any sort of coaching, but there’s no doubt he’s the finest cone and ball collector in the professional game.
- Karl Robinson
- Richie Barker
Wears shorts on the touchline even when it’s freezing cold. Fair play.
- Lee Bowyer
In a desperate attempt from Robinson in order to prove to Charlton supporters that he has mates, 1,507 people from within football rocked up at Sparrows Lane at one point or another. Lee Bowyer the lucky winner of a permanent contract, making him the club’s 4,392nd employed coach.
- The free ones
Charlton organised for 160,000 supporters to go to Northampton free of charge, and paid for all their meals for a month.
- The ones that went to Belgium
The protest fund allowing for cheap coaches to take Charlton supporters to Belgium, and protest against the poisonous individual who owns this football club.
Winner: Kevin Nugent
Wouldn’t have simply flirted with relegation without those seven points.
Singling out individual Charlton Athletic players for abuse has always been frowned upon. Unless, of course, that individual Charlton Athletic player has decided to abuse supporters first.
Roger Johnson, never exactly a fan favourite at any of his clubs, responding to understandable angry reactions to Charlton losing their first game back in League One, a dire 2-0 defeat to Bury, by telling supporters ““don’t fucking come if you don’t like it”. The centre-back booed and abused since, and somehow managing to make a dreadful first day of the season even worse.
For the Addicks, entering the new campaign with the degree of optimism that came from the appointment of Russell Slade and a number of signings who had previously impressed at League One, were pathetic at Gigg Lane. Pathetic when creating a positive impression for still angered and disconnected supporters was paramount.
Charlton, dysfunctional in defence and without any sort of fluent threat going forward, second best for much of the afternoon, but Bury were not incredible. The victory gifted to them.
At the very least, the opening goal for the hosts was certainly gifted to them. Jason Pearce needlessly hauling down Nathan Cameron inside the box, and Neil Danns converting emphatically from the spot. Heads down, and game over with 19 minutes still to play.
Game certainly over three minutes from time, as a poor attempt to defend a corner concluded with Kelvin Etuhu bundling the ball over the line following a knock down from Cameron. The visiting Charlton supporters had put in a superb shift, but their anger now was perfectly reasonable. Anger increased by the scenes at full-time.
In the context, the afternoon offering a reminder that nothing was to change while Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire remained.
Empty seats, and the realisation that connection had been lost for many
This something that has grown throughout the year, but was maybe most apparent in the opening month or so of this season. At the very least, most visually apparent.
For never has The Valley been so empty on such a regular basis. Attendances regularly dropping bellow 10,000, atmosphere lacking, and the physical representation of a loss of connection between club and supporters on show.
An empty Valley little to do with relegation. It, of course, having an impact, but not to the extent where 6,000 supporters have been lost. Attendances not dropping like this after the previous fall to League One.
It a consequence of Duchatelet’s work. Some choosing to boycott, some no longer feeling like this is their club, and some made to feel too disconnected and apathetic to regularly attend. The regime continue to turn a blind eye to it, but they have driven supporters away and, more importantly, left many feeling without attachment to their club.
2016 the year where many, who have been committed supporters for lengthy periods of time, have fallen out of love with Charlton Athletic.
Another window ending with gaps in the squad
At the heart of the summer transfer window, there was evidence to support the idea that the regime were learning from their mistakes, and attempting to change.
A manager with experience of the English game allowed to sign players who had previously impressed in the Football League, and there a relatively competitive side taking shape.
But by the conclusion of the window, it was apparent mistakes had not been learnt from. For the squad, as it had been in every year of Duchatelet’s reign, was left understaffed in several areas. Russell Slade not able to bring in the quantity of bodies he wished to.
This seen most obviously in the centre of midfield, with no creative option recruited, and out wide, with Johnnie Jackson and Kevin Foley having to play on the wings at times this campaign.
A concern about the lack of alternatives in attack, too, with the Addicks woeful on the few occasions they’ve been without Josh Magennis this season, and there no appropriate replacement for Nicky Ajose, whose form has been mixed at best throughout the campaign.
Problems that have extended throughout the season, with a handful of injuries seriously weakening the Addicks. Square pegs in round holes as a result, and serious squad improvement required in January. Something that Robinson has promised, but previous evidence tells you might not happen.
It not just learning that someone unqualified had been directing your club’s signings, and your club’s managers, for several seasons that induced anger, but also the fact that scout Thomas Driesen remains a strong influence.
Despite the constant suggestion that the regime are leaning from their mistakes, the 20-something with no previous football experience is still effectively directing recruitment at Charlton. The man who has sent a bucket load of inadequate players to SE7 during Duchatelet’s regime, who has insisted that they play, and who has overruled managers on signings. As Bob Peeters described him, he is “the boss”.
A Belgian magazine revealing his identity in September, and Louis Mendez securing an interview with him later that month. Driesen’s arrogance and naivety obvious.
Given a prominent role in the network purely by contacting Duchatelet with some tactical analysis, the ‘scout’ uses date and video to make judgement on players. Something that left Phil Chapple effectively forgotten while he remained at The Valley, let alone the view of those in the dugout.
It was all okay to give Powell dire players because lots of information about them was given to him, people’s legitimate concerns about the regime aren’t legitimate, and Charlton is just like any other club.
A man who has also been fed the “bitter ex-employee” line, criticising Powell and Guy Luzon for speaking out against him and the regime. His position made rather weak by the ‘Getting to Know the Network’ podcast. What a shame.
No game under Slade’s leadership emphasised the self-inflicted and unnecessary suffering that the bald-head boss’ cautious mentality brought to his Charlton side than the defeat to AFC Wimbledon.
A defeat that should have been a victory, and a victory that would have had Addicks purring. The home side superb at The Valley for at least the first 45 minutes, and needing only eight of those to take the lead. An excellent goal from Ademola Lookman, finishing from the edge of the area.
In fact, the only complaint come half-time was that Slade’s side hadn’t punished the Dons sufficiently. A dominant performance, featuring fluent attacking moves, with Nicky Ajose and Ricky Holmes failing to take excellent openings.
It meant that Neil Ardley’s side, who should have been dead and buried, were able to grow into the game after the interval. Or, more truthfully, Neil Ardley’s side were allowed to grow into the game by a group of Addicks losing intensity and offering increasing amounts of time and space.
Wimbledon dominating in the centre, Charlton’s midfield and backline dropping deeper and deeper, and those who were almost unplayable further forward becoming tired and isolated.
The drop in intensity and intent, along with the failure to double their lead, punished with a Dons equaliser 12 minutes from time. Dominic Poleon gliding past an uncharacteristically poor Chris Solly, and finishing beyond Declan Rudd. Poor.
A response from Charlton in those remaining 12 minutes required, but heads had dropped and energy had been lost. Wimbledon buoyant, and momentum with them. Five minutes to play when Tyrone Barnett climbed highest to head home the winner from Barry Fuller’s cross.
The turnaround, and an incredible capitulation, completed. The Addicks losing a game that they were winning, and should have won, in its final 12 minutes.
Two pathetic performances for which there were no excuses, an attendance below 9,000 and only 14,000 for the annual ‘Football For a Fiver’ fixture, and a seventh game without victory leaving the Addicks outside of the bottom four on goal difference alone. This a grim, grim week.
It seemed the draw with Oldham Athletic was rock bottom. A late equaliser from Peter Clarke required to deny Slade’s side victory, but even he admitting that a Charlton win would have been an incredible injustice. The hosts absolutely pathetic.
A 21-pass move, resulting in Josh Magennis giving the Addicks a 22nd minute lead, the only moment of quality the hosts mastered throughout the 90 minutes. Horrendous prior to the goal, and even worse thereafter. Oldham, a side in the bottom four and struggling, in complete control, and worthy of a point at the very least.
It not simply the performance, or the result for that matter, that created a sense of despair at full-time, but the impact such a dire night in a ground less than a third full had on the growing sense of disconnection between club and supporters. This felt like a night to a hammer home the sense that the club was dying.
Alas, it was to get worse. In front of the lowest ‘Football For a Fiver’ crowd by some margin, the Addicks performed with similar levels of incompetence against Rochdale four days later. A 1-0 defeat a little flattering on Slade’s pathetic side.
Not even Johnnie Jackson’s missed penalty, well saved by Josh Lills, enough to suggest this was an unfortunate or undeserved loss. Slade, describing the performance as “toothless”, fielding a side without structure or logical tactical shape, and Calvin Andrew’s 25th minute header the absolute minimum punishment warranted.
All made considerably worse by Katrien Meire delivering a pre-match charm offensive, explaining how “the beauty of Charlton is that the fans have played such a massive part in the club’s history. You – the fans – are Charlton”.
She wasn’t wrong, but an increasingly empty Valley, and an increasing detachment between supporters and club, suggested those words were rather empty.
Were it not for Sky Sports, supreme rulers of the Football League, then a weakened Charlton side would have been spared terrible embarrassment. Three players away on international duty, normally enough to postpone a fixture, but it’s showing on live TV meant the Addicks lost their right to avoid playing the game.
But that no excuse for the dire performance – lacking quality, fluency and effort – that led to Slade’s side losing by three goals at the County Ground. Swindon Town taking full advantage of this numerically weakened, and simply weak, group of Addicks.
Any sense of injustice, that might have been there had Charlton competed, lost by the manner of the defeat to their 21st place opponents. Sean Murray’s deflected opener just before the break the punishment that the first half effort of the Addicks warranted.
A response needed after the break, but a Swindon goal effectively sealed the outcome of the game five minutes into the second period. Dire defending from a corner allowing Lloyd Jones to convert at the back post.
The effort among those representing the Addicks merely decreasing as the half continued, while the anti-regime chants in the away end only increasing. The deserved Robins third not coming until four minutes from time, with John Goddard rounding off a move that saw the hosts round stationary Charlton players with ease.
A performance dire enough to, rather irrationally, result in the sacking of Slade. The defeat his final game in charage of the Addicks.
There no question that Slade’s time in charge of the Addicks was underwhelming. There no question that there was need for improvement if his side were to challenge for the top six. There no question that, despite the injustice that existed over being without those on international duty, the defeat to Swindon was unacceptable.
But the sacking of Slade was a hasty, poorly coordinated, and unnecessary piece of decision making by a regime showing that they simply hadn’t changed their ways. Common knowledge to supporters, but here was the evidence for all to see.
Firstly, the reasoning behind the decision itself was hardly enough to justify dismissing a manager that symbolised a change in a club’s philosophy. Results and performances slowly improving, with a cohesion between Slade, though still frustrating with his caution, and his side seemingly growing. The Swindon result a very large blip, rather than a continuation of a theme.
Secondly, the way it was handled was pathetically poor. Not only telling that the news was broken by CARD, meaning that someone within in the club is supportive enough of the group to leak information to them, but the sacking came just two weeks after Meire had offered Slade her full support. Another reminder of the laughable state of Charlton Athletic, and that both words and promises simply mean nothing.
An impressive run of results under caretaker boss Kevin Nugent, assistant to Slade, followed by the appointment of former MK Dons manager Karl Robinson. Supporters relieved it wasn’t Chris O’Loughlin, the former STVV head coach who was oddly appointed to the coaching staff upon Slade’s dismissal.
In words, Robinson had started his Charlton reign in bold and brash style. In actions, Robinson had not. The fourth game of his reign in some contrast to the confident and inspiring image he had attempted to give to the media, with the Addicks dire in defeat to Peterborough United.
Not only was the 2-0 loss a fourth winless game under Robinson, and the third in which a side he was attempting to transform into an attacking one had failed to score, but this a performance lacking as much in quality, intensity and structure as any of the worst efforts under Slade’s leadership.
It not that Charlton supporters, fully aware the issues with their club and their side can be sourced back to the ownership rather than whoever stands in the dugout, were desperate for immediate success under the former MK Dons boss, but they had every right to expect a greater immediate impact than this. Particularly given Robinson’s words of confidence and optimism.
A poor attempt to defend a Paul Taylor free-kick resulting in Ryan Tafazolli heading Posh in front with 21 minutes played. An event taking place either side of constant misplaced passes, half-hearted attempts to close down opponents, and full-backs being beaten regularly with ease. The half-time boos understandable.
And though there was a brief positive response after the break, with Josh Magennis striking the inside of the post and Jordan Botaka’s deflected effort bouncing back off the bar, it was little more than a brief response. A return to the lacklustre effort of the first period following, and Gwion Edwards allowed to waltz through Charlton’s defence to double Peterborough’s lead with 66 minutes played.
Robinson’s side offering no fight in the remaining 24 minutes, effectively accepting defeat, and Robinson himself looking unusually lifeless on the touchline. There more energy in the full-time boos that serenaded the Addicks off The Valley pitch for the final time in 2016 then in the entirety of Charlton’s performance.
Duchatelet being a bit stupid (18/12/2016)
Not much good has come out of Duchatelet’s reign in control of Charlton Athletic, but you can take some solace from the displays of fan power that have maintained pressure on the regime, and from some excellent journalistic efforts that have unearthed information they’d rather keep from supporters.
The ‘Getting to Know the Network’ podcasts the pinnacle of that. An outstanding piece of journalism, going deep into Duchatelet’s leadership, with assistance from those who have worked under it. From Bradley Pritchard to Bob Peeters.
Arguably the most revealing element of the first two podcasts was the outing of emails sent to Chris Powell by Duchatelet, ‘advising’ on tactical set-up and team selection. One explaining to Powell a diamond formation in very crude terms, the other, sent during a game, asking why Yohann Thuram wasn’t starting.
The emails themselves enough to produce extreme anger, but Duchatelet’s response to them being leaked even more so. It all totally acceptable, apparently.
“I find it very stupid that a person is getting help, an important person for the club, does not accept it. I also find that the activists, some activists at the club, who from their reactions think the coach was right, well they are just stupid people too,” Duchatelet told Belgian TV.
So that’s Chris Powell, earning hero status at Charlton both through his time as a player and a manager, who is one of the most respected men in English football, and is currently assistant manager at a Derby County side in unstoppable form. He’s stupid, apparently.
And Charlton supporters, who fought to return their club to The Valley, continue to protest creatively and practically, and devote both time and energy to supporting their club. We’re also stupid, it would seem.
In fact, those that protest are merely activists, not acting for the good of the club. Ignoring all the damage he’s done, how many oppose Duchatelet, and how many participate in protest activity. Why bother to attempt to heal a broken relationship between club and supporters? Simply be ignorant and arrogant, and break it further.
Of course, that all coming from a man who has overseen a relegation, driven supporters away from The Valley, and destroyed the identity of a community club. Who is mocked by almost all throughout English football, who has faced protests at the other clubs he has owned, and evidently has little clue how to successfully run a football club.
At least after that Peterborough defeat came an immediate opportunity for Robinson to calm the concerns of supporters. Legendary status on offer for any manager able to lead a Charlton side to victory at The Den.
No win there, or against Millwall anywhere, since 1996. It not misfortune that has created such a poor run of results in this South East London derby, but a persistent failure to turn up. Character and quality always absent, while the Lions embrace the derby atmosphere and dig deep for victory.
That opportunity, however, was wasted in emphatic fashion. The Addicks, once again, embarrassing themselves in Bermondsey.
Though second best for much of the first half, and always looking uncomfortable in defence, it was a horrendous capitulation in the opening period’s final five minutes that effectively gifted the points to Millwall. Aiden O’Brien allowed to turn in a Shaun Cummings delivery, before atrocious defending meant Steve Morison could volley home a second. Heads dropping, the body language awful, and the effort minimal.
A small revival after the break, which saw Ajose reduce the deficit, merely provided false hope. More grim defending allowed Morison to score his second and Millwall’s third, with Charlton’s response once again weak and pathetic.
Those in red choosing to hid come full-time, with all but Jackson opting not to acknowledge an understandably disgruntled away end. The population of which had their anger increased by Millwall’s decision to pen them in for half an hour. A rather unpleasant night.
A positive appointment, and some positive signings
There was really only one way Roland Duchatelet’s regime could respond to the scenes of protest seen throughout the first half of 2016. By selling the club.
But with the stubborn and club-ruining owner seemingly in no mood to budge, there was at least no way this ownership could continue to follow a strategy of failure. The only change that would be accepted would be a complete one in the boardroom, but while they remained there was simply no excuse for not making changes to their ways.
And so the appointment of a manager with a wealth of experience in English football, and the recruitment of several players who had already proven their worth in the British leagues, was pleasing.
Former Brighton and Hove Albion, Leyton Orient and Cardiff City boss Russell Slade handed the reigns, and allowed to make signings that didn’t have some sort of loose connection to Duchatelet. Winger Ricky Holmes arrived having guided Northampton Town to promotion from League Two, striker Nicky Ajose signed having scored 24 League One goals for Swindon Town in the previous season, and experienced forward Lee Novak snapped up after impressing while on loan at Chesterfield from Birmingham City.
Declan Rudd, a young goalkeeper who had Premier League appearances to his name, was recruited on loan from Norwich City, Jason Pearce, having won promotion with Wigan Athletic, bolstered the backline, and Northern Ireland international Josh Magennis, signed from Scottish club Kilmarnock, threatened to be the physical presence in attack the Addicks have been without seen Yann Kermorgant was disgracefully sold.
Experienced duo Andrew Crofts and Kevin Foley handed contracts after trials, Fredrik Ulvestad (Burnley) and Jordan Botaka (Leeds) signed on loan, and Adam Chicksen joining late on after the rather odd departure of Tareiq Holmes-Dennis.
Plenty of harmful sales amid those incomings, and the squad lacking in depth, but there was a degree of reassurance provided by having a knowledgeable boss, unconnected to the regime, who had recruited a number of players who stood to be among the best in the third tier.
Better times ahead? Few believing that was truly possible while this regime remained, but there at least a very good chance the Addicks would be competitive on the pitch.
A positive appointment there might have been, and some positive signings made, but Charlton’s start to the 2016/17 season was anything but positive.
A tame defeat at Bury, made considerably less enjoyable by Roger Johnson telling supporters to fuck off, followed by a League Cup exit to League Two Cheltenham Town. Results that forced those who had been willing to give Slade’s side their full attention, and as such temporarily withdraw their protesting efforts, grow quickly concerned. A start like this simply couldn’t be afforded with the club in such a fragile state.
So when Alex Revell gave Northampton Town the lead 16 minutes into Charlton’s first home game of the season, complete crisis loomed. Slade’s side booed off at half-time, and it seemed there would be no improvement on the pitch to mask the regime’s faults. Same old, same old.
The Addicks needed inspiring. Desperately. And in these sorts of moments, there no figure more capable of inspiring than the long-serving skipper.
Johnnie Jackson converting coolly in front of the Covered End, scoring Charlton’s first goal of the season, and celebrating in familiar celebration. His knee slide uniting a frustrated set of supporters in celebration. The Valley given a new sense of belief by their captain.
And while Slade’s side would have to settle for a point, the boost that Jackson provided felt like a catalyst. A foundation for success under the new boss.
If nothing else, after such a torrid start, to celebrate a Jackson goal again was a pleasure. The connection between skipper and supporters something that remains as strong as ever despite the state of the club.
The sense that Jackson’s Northampton equaliser may have laid some sort of foundation was reaffirmed just three days later, as the most-highly anticipated signing of Slade’s summer additions took full advantage of the base that had been set.
For Holmes, and Charlton as a collective, were rampant in their first-half destruction of Shrewsbury Town. The Addicks needing just 31 minutes to take an unassailable three-goal lead, with the former Northampton winger taking much of the credit.
The game being contested in relatively even fashion before Holmes struck in spectacular fashion with 22 minutes played. Cutting in from the left, and lashing an effort well beyond the reaches of goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler.
And that Holmes’ strike had set the definitive tone of the game was confirmed just two minutes later, as Jackson doubled Charlton’s advantage. The skipper bundling the ball over the line, and giving The Valley crowd a second trademark knee slide in the space of three days.
But arguably the most spectacular moment was yet to come, as Holmes scored directly from a corner. Intended or not, it took little away from the skill involved in curling the ball in such a manner that it beat Leutwiler and nestled into the far corner of the goal.
The intensity may have dropped in the second period, as Charlton retained possession without looking nearly as threatening as they did during the first half, but it mattered little. Supporters leaving The Valley wowed by the ruthless, attacking efforts they had seen from their side.
Supporters wowed by a new hero, and seemingly wowed by a side that had the potential to perform.
Though the win over Shrewsbury was one born out of scintillating attacking play, this wasn’t exactly the style of football promised when Slade was appointed. The boss building a reputation for creating solid, determined and hard-working sides that fought tirelessly for their victories.
And a victory of that nature would be secured at the Bescot four days later, with Slade’s side digging deep to come away from the Midlands with a 2-1 win. A result that sat in a precarious position throughout much of the afternoon.
Walsall would have taken the lead midway through the first half were it not for a sensational double save from Declan Rudd, but instead it was Charlton who held the advantage at the break. Magennis heading a Holmes’ delivery goalwards, Ajose getting his head in the way, and diverting the ball beyond Neil Etheridge. Ajose’s first goal for his new club.
And though such a lead would not have been possible without both a determined effort from the backline and Rudd behind them, both could be questioned as the hosts found an equaliser during the second period. Too much time and space afforded to Kieron Morris, and Rudd’s attempt to keep his strike out tame.
But Charlton’s advantage, despite the real possibility that momentum would turn Walsall’s way, was restored just two minutes later. Magennis’ ball across the face of goal just about bundled in by Ajose. Just about.
16 minutes still remaining, however, in which Slade’s side would be asked serious questions. The defensive effort gritty, but not quite flawless. Two excellent saves from Rudd required for the Addicks to be able to celebrate their first away win of the season, and their first back-to-back victories since November 2015.
Ultimately, this was a day more memorable for myself for other sporting reasons. The visit to the Bescot sandwiched between two trips to Edgbaston to support the eventual T20 Blast champions. Unfancied Northamptonshire winning a trophy a touch more meaningful and emotional than a single Charlton victory.
But that takes nothing away from the effort shown by the Addicks at Walsall, which was the perfect filling to an excellent day. Though I’m not sure I’ve had any sort of energy since.
This not the most fluent Charlton performance you’ll ever seen, and possibly not the most deserved equaliser, but Ademola Lookman’s late leveller against Bolton Wanderers at the end of August felt important.
And not simply because a theoretical promotion rival were prevented from leaving The Valley with three points. An excellent 90th-minute finish from Lookman, firing clinically beyond Mark Howard, cancelling out Gary Madine’s eight minutes into the second period.
The goal itself a moment of quality from a talented teenager, but to score so late, and so unexpectedly, against strong opposition offered a collective showing of determination, character and fight. Qualities that had been absent from Charlton sides in the previous campaign. An increase to the belief that the Addicks had the mentality capacity needed to challenge for promotion.
At the very least, Slade was desperate to make it seem important. The boss gathering his side in a circle at full-time, before they came over to applaud the Covered End as a collective.
On one hand, an attempt to make a rather lacklustre performance and fortunate point seem more impressive, but on the other a clever piece of management that attempted to show the togetherness and collective strength of this group of Addicks.
An enforced international break following, and both Lookman’s leveller and Slade’s creation of togetherness leaving positive images in the minds of most supporters.
Throughout this season, the regime have attempted to push the notions of change, learning from mistakes, and communication. All very desperate, all very flawed, all doing a very good job of managing to make the situation even worse.
Managers sacked after it had been suggested they were the future of the club a week earlier. An understocked squad failing to deliver on a consistent basis. Supporters still insulted on a regular basis.
A connection between supporters and regime being reconstructed impossible given their previous faults, let alone when the same mistakes are being made and the same attitude is being deployed. Duchatelet’s ownership continuing to destroy the club and drive fans away.
So the idea that a meeting between CARD and Meire would resolve the differences between the two parties was an incredibly naive one. A PR company undoubtedly believing that Meire should make an offer to meet, and that the two parties could reach a common ground.
CARD, however, are anything but naive. Their response to this offer considered, intelligent, and reflecting the views of the vast majority of Charlton supporters.
The mistakes made by the regime retold, Meire reminded of the regime’s constant rejection of meetings with supporter groups, and complete supporter disillusionment reaffirmed. The conclusion being that the only possible action was for the club to be sold and the regime to depart.
A perfectly constructed response, that supporters could unite behind. Fighting against the regime the only way supporters could reengage with their club, and having the leading protest group put across that message was reassuring.
Another afternoon in SE7 where an emphatic and well-organised protest against the regime was followed by an emphatic and motivated victory against the opposition.
Coventry City supporters arriving at The Valley with similar levels of anger towards their failings ownership, and a protest march involving both sets of fans seeing the messages of both Addicks and Sky Blues reinforced. That Duchatelet and SISU must sell.
Charlton Church Lane and Floyd Road overwhelmed with supporters from both sides before kick-off, and the familiar voice of Dave Lockwood, before heading to the usual protesting position behind the West Stand. Supporters of the Addicks holding “SISU OUT” placards, Coventry supporters with “ROLAND OUT” placards, and the giant Duchatelet balloon floating above them as they made their feelings clear.
Their combined efforts not yet over, however, as the start of the match was interrupted by toy pigs being thrown on the pitch from all sides of the ground. The chanting against both regimes as pigs continued to fall vocal, powerful, and certain. A scene that no one, not least Katrien Meire, could ignore.
Nor could it be ignored how the home supporters immediately offered their support to their side once the game properly got underway. Rewarded as Holmes, capitalising on some poor Coventry defending, took down an Ulvestad lofted pass and converted coolly with 32 minutes played.
And while the visitors applied a reasonable amount of forward pressure during the second period, their fragile defence was always likely to be exposed again. Jordan Turnbull taking far too long on the ball, Magennis robbing him of possession, and passing across the face of goal for Lookman to finish with ease. Victory sealed with 12 minutes remaining.
But there remained time for Magennis, marvellous throughout the 90 minutes, to add a third. Ulvestad’s ball over the top superb, the Northern Ireland international taking a touch that beat Sam Ricketts, and his resulting finish emphatic. An impressive three-goal victory for the Addicks.
Though, of course, the real victory for both sides will come when there is change at the top of their clubs. Joy in the result, and pride in the protests.
Nicky Ajose’s stoppage-time leveller from the penalty spot may have salvaged a point at Priestfield, but it didn’t salvage much pride. The Addicks woeful against Gillingham, and incredibly fortunate to come away from Kent with anything.
But not only did the side come away with a point, their supporters came away having found a new and creative to make their point.
A plane carrying a banner which read “DUCHATELET & MEIRE #TIMETOFLY” circling the ground before and just after kick-off, much to the delight of the visiting Addicks.
It apparently coming from a single donation, and the impact it had doubled by its surprise factor. This not a pre-announced protest.
The message clear for all, not least Meire in the Priestfield’s directors’ box, to see.
Free speech day at The Valley it might have been, with numerous banners depicting anti-regime messages, but actual speech was minimal.
Charlton’s tame and toothless performance against Chesterfield failing to inspire an already apathetic crowd. The visitors showing the sort of quality that reflected the relegation battlers they are, but the Addicks offering little attacking intent whatsoever. Silence interrupted by groans, and half-time boos.
And though there was much greater forward intensity in the second period, with Holmes regularly bombing down the left flank, cutting edge and potency was still lacking. Frustration and disappointment filling a less than enthused Valley.
An underwhelming draw looming, for which Slade and his side could not escape criticism. The performance poor, and the cautious mentality even worse.
So it was sheer relief that fuelled the celebrations among those in the Covered End as Novak rose highest and turned home Holmes’ delivery with four minutes to play. Charlton, despite their poor performance, unquestionably the better side and earning a victory that was not undeserved, but there still no doubt that this was a moment of good fortune in the overall context of the game.
Those in red desperate to prove that, in taking a lead that would ultimately give them victory, they had shown their quality and worth. Novak pointing his ear towards the home end, and Crofts role in the celebrations very much an attempt to prove a point.
To be perfectly honest, the goal had not achieved that. This performance still desperately underwhelming, and worryingly poor. To ignore the need to improve would have been naive.
But that taking little away from the relief and joy that was felt as Novak’s header made the net ripple. A release of frustration and anger, in the form of celebration and delight.
Ruining Roland’s birthday (12/11/2016-15/11/2016)
As a Charlton side, depleted due to international call-ups, were being mauled by Swindon Town live on Sky Sports, Duchatelet was sat having a spot of lunch in a Belgian restaurant. The owner, who apparently watches every single game via live stream, taking no interest in events at the County Ground.
A shame for Duchatelet, therefore, that a group of Charlton supporters were to be found outside the window of the restaurant, and able to unearth his lie.
The beginning of a week where the protesting efforts would be taken to Belgium. The owner still yet to attend a game since October 2014, so it seems only fair to pay Duchatelet a visit in his home nation.
A group of protesters setting off for mainland Europe with a wonderfully decorated taxi for company. Spreading the message of the damage the regime has done to the Addicks around important Duchatelet-linked locations and organisations, while also taking some gifts for his 70th birthday.
For the visit coincided with his birthday, and he wasn’t best pleased that it did, the poor thing. Duchatelet “very upset” that the protesters came over on his special day, before calling them “actors” and suggesting they were ex-club employees who couldn’t handle a woman being the club’s CEO. Hilariously incorrect.
Toys thrown out the pram further with Slade sacked, despite Meire offering the boss her full support days earlier, while the trip of Belgium was taking place.
Duchatelet once again ignoring the extent of the hatred among his customers, and the damage he has inflicted upon this club. The regime once again exposed as failing and flawed. Charlton supporters once again shown as marvellous and determined characters.
The entire protesting effort in Belgium an excellent piece of work, that deserves endless amount of praise.
Amid the chaos caused by Slade’s sacking, the side that Kevin Nugent inherited earned a victory as impressive as anything managed throughout the entirety of 2016.
With Karl Robinson, set to be appointed as manager, watching on from the stands, the Addicks recorded an incredible 5-1 win at the Memorial Stadium. Play-off chasing Bristol Rovers blown away by Charlton’s complete performance.
The complete nature of this effort reaffirmed by the fact defensive resolve was required after Ademola Lookman’s deflected effort had given the visitors the advantage midway through the first half. Young goalkeeper Dillon Phillips making several important saves before the sublime Magennis turned in Adam Chicksen’s ball across the face of goal on the stroke of half-time.
Charlton’s lead made unassailable five minutes into the second half, as Patrick Bauer emphatically headed home from Lookman’s corner, while an injury to Bristol’s Jake Clarke-Salter left the home side, who had already made three changes, with ten men.
No one would have criticised the Addicks for settling on such an advantage, and completing the rest of the game at half-pace. But they remained rampant, with Chicksen’s deflected effort giving him his first goal for the club, while a classy finish from Ajose gave the visitors a fifth. Unbelievable.
And though Rory Gaffney was hauled down by Phillips inside the Charlton box, with Matty Taylor stepping up to the convert the resulting penalty, in stoppage-time, it neither tainted the performance, the result, nor the joy in the away end.
A simply spectacular night. An antidote the chaos and suffering the club so often provides.
A moment specifically for me, but one that, given the responses myself and the skipper received, appeared to be enjoyed and appreciated by all Charlton supporters.
Johnnie Jackson, a figure that represents “our” Charlton in a time where connection is lacking, going out of his way to deliver a shirt to me in response to a post I wrote about how I’m feeling. No suggestion that he should do it, no PR company getting involved, merely a hero doing something to reaffirm his status.
The message on the shirt fantastic, and makes me emotional each time I read it. My hero appreciates and values me, at a time when I struggle to appreciate and value myself.
But it the gesture itself that stands out above anything else. He didn’t need to do anything, he didn’t even need to read it.
Instead, he’s taken the time to write the meaningful and personal message on the shirt, and have it sent to my home address. The moment when I opened the package and saw the shirt for the first time will live with me forever. A moment of joy for someone who has done little but suffer this year.
I think I’ve just about stopped crying now. Although I’m on the verge of starting again having written this. I can’t do justice to how much this means to me.
As the game entered its final few minutes at Roots Hall, it appeared as if Charlton were to end 2016 in a manner befitting of their worst year in their recent history. A 22nd defeat of the calendar year, and a slip to eight points off the top six.
For Southend United led 1-0, owing to a 24th minute strike from Simon Cox. The forward taking advantage of some generous Charlton defending to turn inside the box and finish clinically.
So too had the Shrimpers created more than enough openings to kill the game off. Wastefulness and, more importantly, Dillon Phillips the two factors preventing Phil Brown’s side from already having sealed victory.
But there was an element of fight in this group of Addicks, who had improved upon their first half efforts after the interval. While Southend threatened at the other end, there were openings for the visitors, and Ted Smith had to make several impressive saves in the home goal. If nothing else, the class of full debutant Joy Aribo giving Robinson’s side some quality going forward.
So the relief and joy when Aribo’s 89th minute delivery picked out Andrew Crofts, and the midfielder converted via the crossbar, was immeasurable. Great scenes of celebration, both on the pitch and in the away end, as the Addicks stole a point that they had worked hard for, but didn’t appear to be getting.
A base from which to build upon going into 2017? Probably not, we’ve been here too many times before, and the gap between the Addicks and the top six is still a rather large six points. But it was a bloody enjoyable moment to end a disastrous year on all the same.