One of the reasons -probably the only reason that I buy the The Mail On Sunday is to read their excellent sports section which includes the superb Patrick Collins Column. Over the years I can honestly say that I have agreed with 90% of Collins opinions and I so enjoy his straight to the point matter of fact writings. No punches are pulled and I often agree when reading his column almost to the point of shouting out"Thank goodness someone has so eloquently put into words exactly how strongly I feel about a particular sporting story". Of course what does help is that he is a fellow Charlton follower and if you ever get a chance to read some of his Match day reports you will feel his passion, totally unbiased of course for the club.
In this Sunday's Mail the following article appeared and confirms to me anyway that he really is a true Addick and I agree almost word for word with its content. One of the reasons that I have typed out the article is that its so bloody rare to read anything about our beloved Charlton in the daily tabloids. God how we all took it for granted.
EXETER (H) ? THAT DOESN'T EXCITE LIKE THE GUNNERS
British sport has few reasons to remember the summer of 2006. There was the World Cup in Germany, at which Englands WAGs made more impact than England,s footballers. There was a test series with Pakistan, which ended in Anarchy. There was the unwelcome return of Dwain Chambers . And that's about it. But for the followers of Charlton Athletic , there was one shining consolation . It was that moment in June when the Premier League fixtures were published -West Ham (a), followed by Manchester United at home. Then Bolton (h) and Chelsea (a). And that was August. Happy days. I remembered them last week when they brought out the fixtures for the Third Division. Its marketing title is 'The Coca Cola Football League Division One' but we all know it is DivisionThree. Anyway our August programme consists of Wycome Wanderers (h) Hartlepool (a) Leyton Orient (a) , Walsall (h) and Tranmere (a) . Be still my pounding heart. I have no wish to demean these excellent football clubs. They have earned their places in Division Three. The trouble is, so have we, And we never saw it coming. Years of solid achievement under the brilliant management of Alan Curbishley bred impertinent expectations. Why did we always finish halfway up the Premier League? Why had we never made Europe? was Curbishley the man to take us to another level? Charlton directors seemed affected by the mood. Having spent a decade or more acting the model for middle -sized football clubs, they spent the next two years behaving like all the rest. Curbishley was foolishly allowed to leave in March 06 and the rot set in. Iain Dowie was appointed and hung around for six months spending oceans of money on inept footballers. He was replaced by Les Reed, who stayed for six weeks. Enter Alan Pardew, who struck a few poses, made a few promises and produced two years of relentless mediocrity. By the time he left, Charlton were deep in Division Two and falling fast . Phil Parkinson was asked to keep the club afloat . He failed . They really had taken us to another level. Now I must apologise for this eruption of private grief, but the wounds are still raw. We, who once hovered on the fringe of Europe, are now routinely described as lowly unsung or worst of all plucky. And we hate it. And it all happened because a fine manager was carelessly undervalued and a capable board took its eye off the ball. It happened to my club , it could easily happen to yours. We do not seek miracles. We don't want a sheik or an oligarch turning up to hurl untold millions at our problems . We simply want people to run the place as it used to be run. So we contemplate the fixtures and the memories crowd in . Take September. Charlton's last match of the month is at home to Exeter. Three years ago it was the Arsenal. Funny old game.
Whether Curbishley could have been persuaded to stay if the financial backing that was given to Dowie was given to him we will never know.
The premiership is the only place to be and I struggle to get excited about third division football although I will follow the Reds for life. My fear is that In my life time I have already witnessed the greatest period in Charlton's history .
We all have to move on but at the moment I cant. Its so bloody painful viewing the fucking fixture list. Reading the football gossip column on the BBC website really brings it home because we don't get a piddly diddly squat mention. Three seasons ago, daily we would be included and I always found late June and July exciting because we would be linked with reasonably well known players priced at £3 million or more, now its more like £300 thousand and that's pushing it.
Come on you Reds.