It’s all been too serious of late. And having taken up too much space waffling extensively on matters Charlton, there hasn’t been the opportunity to squeeze in an update on whether during the past week in Lyon I managed to make it to the crucial CFA Group B Lyon Duchere away game at Besancon. The truth is I didn’t. My partner Suzanne was up for it in principle (no, honest, apparently it’s a very nice town and an overnight stay could have been rounded off by the game), but it would have meant sacrificing our one full day of pure R&R (with associated and aforementioned rabbit in mustard) for a two hours-plus drive back on a Saturday night - and perhaps more to the point having to take a risk on running out of petrol in light of a problem or two in this department of late in France, with a little reserve required to get me to the airport on Sunday.
(Sorry if anyone’s expecting dramas, but I didn’t see any riots during the week. If I’d known that shops were going to be looted, I’d have joined the protest march and directed it towards a good wine shop I know. I could just see the reports: ‘Police are looking for a man with an English accent wearing a Charlton shirt and carrying two bottles of Chateau d’YQuem and two bottles of Petrus’. If you think that might have resulted in a rather limited number of suspects, don’t forget that there is another Duchere-supporting Addick out there.)
So having already passed on a seven-goal thriller at Carlisle, it was with some trepidation that I checked the France Football site today for an update on what I might have had. I was aware that Duchere are not noted for their high-scoring games. Prior to Saturday this season’s eight games had produced 16 goals (nine for, seven against), not bad but less impressive (11 in seven) when you strip out that exceptional 4-1 home win over low-flying Chasselay (a town which as noted in a previous comment may have featured in a Monty Python classic but whose defence must be permanently lathered, much like our own of late). What I hadn’t done was check on Besancon’s record in that department. They actually went into the game unbeaten this season, but with only two wins out of eight. The other six were drawn and the accumulated goals tally for their games stood at 13.
I think people should be able by now to see where this is going. Duchere and Besancon did indeed duly play out a 0-0 draw on Saturday evening. I don’t have a match report to pass on, but you can imagine the entertainment quotient for a game that I guess will live longer in my memory than that of any other living soul. Suzanne may have been sold on going to the game, but just how many brownie points I would have lost will forever remain, fortunately, a matter of pure conjecture.
The result nevertheless set me thinking about the worst 0-0 draw I’ve ever seen. It’s another I may have mentioned before (prior to the Notts County game), when on New Year’s Day a County-supporting friend and I drove from London to Nottingham (and back), in a very poor state, to watch two utterly indifferent and hungover teams on a quagmire of a pitch. Never mind goalmouth action, I don’t think the ball moved more than 10 yards either side of the centre-circle all game. All I do remember of the occasion was the pair of us (plus a few others) pleading for those in a tea shack the other side of a fence to get to us whatever liquid (quite literally) they might have had. Aye, we had it tough.
That’s one of only two tea-shack related incidents at football matches I can recall. The other was when for some inexplicable reason some friends and I drove south from university at Sheffield one Saturday to take in a Chesterfield v Millwall game. We went in what passed for the away end, thinking it better that with London accents that was the safer option (nobody in their right mind would be there and not a Spanner). After about 20 minutes I was in the queue for a cuppa and Chesterfield were awarded a penalty. The poor runt of a Chesterfield fan with the task of dishing out the refreshments was obviously a little keen to see what was happening on the pitch. Far be it for me to condone this sort of behaviour, but a big, hairy Spanner waiting to be served leant into the cabin and hollered “are you serving the f***ing tea or watching the f***ing game?” There was a quick reordering of priorities.
So, Sheffield up against us again on Saturday. Always brings back memories for me, given my three years there (more if the post-graduation period on the dole is added; well, after the strains of securing a philosophy degree you need time out to consider the first steps on a career path). Recent experience has not been positive. With a fellow Addick driving, we went up to Bramall Lane for the match in our final Premiership season. On the bus to the ground an old lady asked us if we were OK to find the ground and I explained we were, given my time there (when for a while as sports editor of the university paper I used to avail myself of the press pass to United games). ‘Did we treat you right?’ she kindly inquired. Well, you did before, but not on that day, which saw an aimless and spineless performance from us rounded off with a late winner for them from Gillespie (where is he now? Apparently Darlington if Wikipedia is to be believed). Nor on my next excursion to the city of steel, to Hillsborough in our final Championship season. That saw us routed 4-1. The recent results at The Valley against Sheffield teams have of course been more mixed, but nobody’s going to forget the pasting dished out in Pardew’s last game.
Consequently I feel we are owed one. Could be a decent game, against a (relatively) ‘big’ team in this division, one currently fourth. Oh merde, I was going to say I’m quite looking forward to it. I think I used those words ahead of our last home game.