Sunday 21 February 2016

New Charlton Book and a Community Club Doing Well

There have been many splendid books written on and around our club, from the reference works (to which we are often indebted in the rush to scribble something) to the accounts and biographies of former players. And they continue, with Steve Bridge's 'Charlton Athletic In Pictures 1975-2015' (and now £10 goes to CARD for each additional copy sold). But I have heard that another of more questionable merit is in the pipeline. It's working title is apparently 'The True History of Charlton Athletic' and is set to form the third tomb of incomparable wisdom from our owner. I am led to believe that the contents will surprise many Addicks (and football historians) and will correct many misunderstandings about the club.

The book sheds light on the uncertain details of the formation of Charlton Athletic, with the claim that it was in fact the work of extraterrestrials, who set in motion the whole thing safe in the knowledge that one day there would be another coming, of one much greater than them, to save the world of football from its sins and to show us all the true path. The book reveals that contrary to popular belief, Sam Bartram never actually played for Charlton (too old), Derek Hales came through the Charlton youth ranks, Curbishley was Belgian, Sir Chris was "certainly wrong" if he said he was told who he should pick to play, and Yann Kermorgant was a player who "wanted to leave" Charlton.

In all seriousness, these latest comments from Duchatelet in the SLP interview are beneath contempt - unless he really is so self-deluded to actually believe that them (if so, he must be the only person in any way connected with Charlton that does). It seems quite apparent at whose knee Ms Meire learnt how to pretend that black is white with a straight face. We've seen Powell's recent comments regarding being told who to pick. For the record here are some excerpts from an interview with Kermorgant in the SLP back in February 2014. 'Yann goes on to explain in detail how the club offered no form of negotiation with regard to agreeing personal terms, how the club quickly accepted a bid from Bournemouth and allowed him to talk to them, and how on the Thursday evening he was still trying to negotiate a stay with the club. Despite Katrien Meire telling him earlier the club still wanted to keep him, according to Yann she came back later that evening and said after speaking with the owner that he wanted to sell him'. Kermorgant is then quoted as saying "Charlton wanted to show people they had tried to do something when in reality they had done nothing special".

Just disgruntled ex-employees of course, just as so many of us will be getting labelled as disgruntled ex-supporters - except that we're not going anywhere and, as the poster says, will be around when you have gone, whatever state the club is in. In the interim, let's not allow deliberate attempts to rewrite history, or at least to try to muddy the waters with some, be viewed as anything other than (more) lies. If there is some comfort to be taken, it's that we have no good reason to believe Duchatelet when he says he is not prepared to sell the club. Why should we assume he is telling the truth over this when he is so obviously content to lie on other matters?

On a lighter note, would anyone like an update on a football club working well within the community and enjoying a good season? I'm sure that during recent months everyone has been doing their own checking up on France's CFA Groupe B to see how Lyon Duchere have been getting on. But in case not, after an indifferent season last time around - when they spent most of the campaign in the lower reaches of their regional division but came through it unscathed (ie they didn't get relegated) - this season have been on a splendid run pretty much from day one.

In the 16-team (ie 30-game) league after 18 matches La Duch have recorded 10 wins, seven draws, and a solitary defeat, scoring 26 and conceding 13. There's only one fly in the ointment: the fact that Grenoble have done even better: played 19, won 13, drawn four and lost two. Both teams stuttered in the latest round, with Duchere held to a 0-0 draw at home by Monts d'Or Azergues, while Grenoble went down 1-0 away at Yzeure. So as things stand Duchere are seven points behind Grenoble but with a game in hand - which comes with a point for turning up, so the gap could be narrowed to three points. Duchere have a five-points lead and a game in hand over third-placed Auxerre B (a team which I believe cannot be promoted whatever happens).

Next Sunday will see the fixture that will go some way to determining which team tops the league and gets automatically promoted to France's national third division as Duchere make the short trip to Grenoble. Clearly a win for Grenoble and a 10-points gap and with 10/11 games left would leave Duchere dependent on their rivals - who I think would consider themselves the 'bigger' team and have fans with a poor reputation - blowing it. A draw and it still looks tough, but if Duchere can get the victory it really will be game on for the title.

It does get complicated (for me at least) if Duchere finish runners-up. I asked my French partner Suzanne to look at the wording on the Foot National site to try to explain to me the precise rules determining who goes up from the various regional leagues and who gets relegated from National. It does seem you can finish second in one of the four regional leagues and get promoted. I am led to believe (but with no certainty) that at the end of the season the four bottom teams in National will play against each other, as will the four CFA teams which finished second in their leagues. The two victorious teams would then have a play-off final to decide it all. But I'm still a bit confused. The Foot National leagues show the bottom four National places highlighted as relegation spots, and the top place in each of the four CFA groups highlighted for promotion. I don't know how another place might come into the equation.

Suzanne promises me she will have it all clarified by the time I next get to Lyon. I expect to be there in mid-March, and the timings will allow for a Duchere home game against Le Puy. It's been while for me since my last match in anger, much longer since I last saw a Duchere goal (let alone a win), but I have high hopes that this time around Duchere will do their bit to lift my footballing spirits. I remember not so long ago being in Lyon and agreeing to eat some cheese if we beat Leicester - and of course Kermorgant did the business for us. Happier days indeed.

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