Whereas Seville for New Year in one major aspect disappointed (Leyton Orient), Prague for Easter proved to be a delight on all fronts. In a city packed with tourists (including us of course) the priority was to find spaces off the beaten track for the necessary drink to accompany staring at the mobile for text updates and food/wine afterwards to celebrate. Now if you go down a small alley by the side of the chocolate museum, past the erotic chocolates display (I’m trying to make it easy to follow), the small street ahead looks empty and nobody goes down it. But if you do, you reach a small bar playing sixties music and serving the best beer in Prague (heaven knows I tried a few) and two doors further a small restaurant which according to the menu used house upstairs a bordello frequented by (among others) Bismark.
There is now another small corner of a foreign city that is forever Charlton. The bar was the scene of confirmation of the final score against Oldham and the guy behind the bar, whose English was one notch below my Czech, is now fully aware that the Reds are going up. In the restaurant following the beer the waiter was able to follow things a little more clearly and, having inquired where I came from said he had a friend in London. Where? Less than a mile from The Valley it transpired. Further proof of my long-held belief that everyone in the world is really a Charlton supporter, the only problem being that some are in varying stages of denial. Throw in a shop where you can buy (did we have a choice?) a Russian doll with Jackson on the outside, Wright-Phillips inside him, followed by Hollands, Kermorgant and finally Wagstaff, and you have a city that’s hard to beat. Apparently there’s a castle and a bridge as well.
I’ve no words to add to those of Sir Chris regarding the performance away at Oldham (which was tracked on the ipad at the hotel). Only perhaps what he couldn’t state explicitly, namely that the ref was a total disgrace (please feel free to insert chosen expletives as they would all apply). I’ve only seen the BBC highlights, but they are enough. Walsall seemed sweaty, but all is indeed well that ends well. As it’s far from done yet I don’t really feel like voting for a player of the season at this stage; but two more clean sheets in crucial games (following those against Huddersfield at home and in three of the four Sheffield games) and there’s no question that a defender should be taking home the gong. Morrison, Wiggins and Solly would all be worthy winners; so would Hollands for that matter.
Doing the maths has of course become easier. Five points from four games for promotion, after that seven to be sure of being champions. You have to give credit where it’s due and the two Sheffields are making it as tough as it could be. To need 95 points to be sure of going up is some ask. But if we’re exasperated by them, they must be tearing their hair out over us. And having taken 10 points in the four games against them they can have no complaints with the way things are. The fact that they’re winning games more easily than us at the moment is irrelevant; since the turn of the year there’s been the feeling that we could only blow it and that brings pressure of its own kind. We’ve earned the right to have it in our own hands, which is not to say that a slip for the others on Saturday would not be much appreciated.
The odds are of course against the bubbly coming out on Saturday (and mathematically we wouldn’t be sure of being champions if we win and they both don’t). But some things are written – and we all knew when the fixtures came out that away at Carlisle was a weekend that just had to be kept clear. Barring ticket disasters, train cancellations, or the alarm clock failing in its duty I’ll be there.