Friday 13 March 2009


My dictionary’s definition of ‘diehard’ is “one who resists to the last; rabid opponent of change or innovation”. There have to be a number of adjectives to be applied to those travelling north for tomorrow’s game, but diehard might be appropriate. And, not surprisingly, it looks like they have a figurehead in Kinsella, whose pre-match rallying call seems to strike the right note – not too divorced from reality - for what is required over the remainder of the season.

I won’t be adding to the diehard numbers. My partner Suzanne is over in London for the weekend (which will include watching on TV a game with a different shaped ball which may strain cross-Channel relations). Having inflicted on her a coach trip to Nottingham some years back I don’t think I could sell the concept of a day in the Black Country (‘pourquoi le pays noir?’ ‘Parce que c’est un khazi’). This is not to suggest that otherwise I would have been up for it. She will return for Easter and another trip to The Valley for the Birmingham game. That’s as close as I want to go to the Midlands, at least until next season’s encounters with Walsall and Crewe. The Championship just feels like a place we never wanted to be in.

I don’t want to feel cynical in the event that we beat Wolves. There’s a difference between cynicism and resignation. But a win tomorrow will feel like news of the equaliser on Tuesday night, welcome but still a little painful for what might have been. That said, only those who turn up each home game to carp and criticise can want us to be embarrassed over the remainder of the season. Yes, it will hurt if we get some good results and end up thinking of what might have been. But that’s the lesser of two evils.

I was given a Charlton headlines diary for 2009 at Christmas and I thought I’d just write in it how I felt after each game. It won’t make for entertaining reading in the years ahead (at least not for me). There’s only so many ways to say ‘hacked off’, ‘depressed’ or ‘angry’. I still want the tail end of the season to be as uplifting as it can be.

As for tomorrow, the team, the performance? Let’s just go out and win the bloody game and sod the rest. As its apparently the featured game on ITV’s Sunday morning highlights let’s hope it will be possible to watch without pillows over the head. And I hope the diehards will be able to pick themselves out when the cameras pan to our supporters after the winner goes in.

It’s good to have Zhi back, and I assume Parkinson will stick pretty much to the team on Tuesday. When it comes to next Saturday’s home game, however, I hope we get the opportunity to see Kandol and Dickson play together again up front. At home against Plymouth (admittedly one of the poorest teams we’ve seen this season, on that day at least) there looked like the potential for a genuine partnership, one that could thrive next season if of course Kandol is signed (just for the record, Tresor, it’s actually less than five years since we were playing in the Premiership). Assuming Todorov departs others will have to go too – and the only case to be made for Gray and Burton is that they are under contract and unlikely to attract offers. As for trialist Douala, of course I hope he’s a world-beater; but honestly I haven’t got a clue.

I don’t like ending on sour notes, but here’s one. I was delighted that Coventry put up such a spineless display in the FA Cup last weekend. At the end of last season they came to The Valley with everything to play for to try to avoid relegation and simply rolled over. If they had been relegated they could have had no complaints. Instead they survived through the failings of others and now sit in mid-table safety. Our lot was to start to possibly close the gap on those above us only to see them produce a ridiculous sequence of results. Sometimes there just ain’t no justice; well only a little (especially if West Ham have to fork out bucketloads to Sheff Utd).

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