The news that the Valley friendly against Inverness Caledonian Thistle has been designated a testimonial for Paddy Powell is entirely welcome, and of course entirely deserved. Does still leave the Killer testimonial to be fitted in at some point in the future (anyone know what happened to his autobiography?), but hopefully that one’s in the back of the mind of someone at the club.
I don’t want to trawl through the stats of Powell’s playing career. The programme and others’ posts will do that well enough, and it’s bloody hot today so any actual effort on my part is a long shot. I’d rather just see what comes to my mind when his name crops up. Not surprisingly, it’s just about all positive, and that’s not rose-tinted glasses. Yes, I remember that there were one or two question marks over his ability and/or inclination to tackle back; yes, there was the dabbling in the US that almost caught us out. But what I really remember is a player we signed from non-league rather older than usual for that type of purchase (after he’d shown what he could do against us) who went on to be instrumental in a delightful period for club on the pitch, when expectations were somewhat muted (we had made it back into the old Second Division), we couldn’t defend, but we scored goals seemingly at will.
In those days we were delighted with a few matches a season featuring on Sunday’s The Big Match, so understandably two memories of Paddy on the pitch were from games with recorded highlights. To feature on TV was good enough, but for us to win ‘goal of the season’ was something else. Powell helping out in defence then haring up the pitch for a return after a bit of playing around by Warman; quick feint either way from the left side and in goes the cross for Hales to meet it on the volley and smash it into the net. That saw off Hull on the day. My second TV memory wasn’t a win (somehow we were edged out 2-1 at Palace) but was surely Powell’s finest goal for us. Speaking about the game the next day, Palace’s manager Malcolm Allison said he’d told his defenders to push Powell inside as he had no left foot. Well, he was pushed inside and hit a beauty from well outside the box into the far corner of the net.
Other games tend to get merged or details are a bit blurred, but I remember one press report extolling Charlton’s attacking prowess as we played with three wingers: Flanagan and Powell, plus Peacock going wide from central midfield. Add in Killer and King Arthur Horsfield to actually score most of them, then Flash moving inside after Horsfield left, and you have the 6-0 against Swansea followed by 6-1 against Notts County, plus Hales’ 28-goal season. I do remember the final game of that season, at home to Bolton; we lost 5-0 not least because every time we went forward someone tried to give it to Hales to get to 30 and scoop the £10,000 (I think) while the defence, as usual, leaked. I don’t remember if Paddy took the corners, but my favourite used to be one to the far post for the head of ‘Big Dave’ Shipperley, for him to nod it back and Hales to score. Seemed to happen all the time (and still does in my head).
When we list ‘Charlton legends’, Powell’s name doesn’t usually make the top batch. He didn’t (often) bang them in himself, he didn’t (to the best of my knowledge) have a fight on the pitch, he didn’t go on to greater glories at other clubs, and doesn’t top the lists for appearances. But if there’s a second group of heroes he’s right up there in that one. He made so many, most obviously for Hales, and was a vital component in the success of him and others. He provided an Addick (and of course many other ones) with a massive amount of pleasure.
Of course Powell’s years at the club since hanging up the boots would themselves merit a testimonial for him. I’m sure I used to see him in the gym when there was one at The Valley open to the public (I was on an – overdue and necessary – return to something approaching fitness campaign). But this post can’t end without an apology. I went down to The Valley last season to answer the call for volunteers to help clear away snow and ice from outside the ground and then from the pitch to try to get the Sheff Wed game played.
I only managed a chunk of the first day (and for the record do not feature in any of the club photos taken as I took advantage of the break to go to the tunnel and get someone to take a couple of shots of me doing a ‘Sir Chris’ leap out) and, while the work outside was exemplary, when it came to getting the snow off the pitch I can’t help feeling our less than professional efforts contributed to the poor state of the pitch on the East Stand side for the subsequent month or so. And we lost the bloody game. If there’s any quid pro quo, it was pretty muddy once the snow came off and I fell on my posterior while helping to drag the covers on. In times gone by I would have kept the stain on the jeans, but it was a cold day – and it might have been hard to explain to people, including my French partner Suzanne, exactly why I was happy to wear in public a pair in that condition.