Friday, 31 May 2013

The Millwall team you might just like....!!

With a dearth of news on the Charlton Athletic front so far this summer, I have the choice of creating false rumours or causing a ruckus with a misleading heading - I've chosen the latter.

I bet you thought that you would never hear the day that you heard a Charlton fan say that they also supported Millwall, well I do, what's more I have brazenly worn my Millwall shirt to games at the Valley!  However, before you rush out to call in the medics or the lynch mob let me explain.

To most of us that support the club in SE7, Millwall is a team that plays at the Den down near New Cross.  In fact its history lies in E14 on the Isle of Dogs, when the club was set up by a group of Dockers in the area known as Millwall.  It's still known as Millwall but many people have dropped the name with many preferring to use the term "Isle of Dogs" to describe the area.  I will leave it up to you to decide whether this has anything to do with the connotations with the fans of the club of the same name.  Suffice it to say, the story is that they were so concerned about thick football fans turning up on a Saturday afternoon that they named the nearby Docklands Light Railway station "Mudchute" rather than Millwall.

However that does not stop the area being called Millwall and some teams are still quite rightly proud enough to wrestle back the name to preserve the rich history and heritage of the area and this  includes Millwall Rugby Club.  This fledgling club was set up in 1995 and by all accounts has been well supported and flourished.  They currently have about 200 active members and 800 supporter subscribers, with three men's teams, a woman's team and a number of youth teams.  Having spent a few nights with various members I can also confirm that they are active supporters of the local public house trade!  Always game for a laugh and a pint I have to say that they are a decent bunch of people keen to promote their sport and integrate into local society.  Indeed a friend of mine, who's son played for one of their youth teams was amazed at how many of the older players acknowledged his son and stopped to say hello when they saw him in the area.

So I know the shape of the ball is wrong and they pick it up with their hands but this is a local club which has started from scratch and deserves all the recognition it can get.  So if like me you live in the area come and have a closer look at this community club.  For more information go to or contact

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Micro Brewery Review: Full Moon Brew Work, Phuket Thailand

For those of you who enjoyed my Thai wine review, I thought you might enjoy this little gem I found while recently on holiday.  It might be a tad expensive to make the trip just to sup the beer but if you happen to find yourself in Phuket, Thailand can I recommend the Full Moon Brew Work near to Patong beach.

Phuket Microbrewery
Most of you will be familiar with the main commercial beers in Thailand such as Singha, Chang, and Tiger beer.  These lager style beers are just right for kicking back a cold “brewski” on the beach as you watch the sun go down.  However, the choice for the real ale enthusiast is rather limited, in Phuket, to Guinness in the various Irish themed pubs (which doesn't really travel too well).  I'm afraid those bottles of sweet apple and pear cider from Ireland have also started to slowly creep in.

As I can obtain all of these in the UK if I wish, I can see no reason to start drinking them at export prices in Thailand.  However, I do hanker after something different to drink so while planning my holiday activities my eyes lit up when I stumbled across a new micro brewery that had recently opened up.

Quite clear what they do

The Full Moon Brew Work is situated right in the middle of the modern Jung Ceylon shopping centre which is a tourist trap but it's very pleasant and if your other half isn't too keen there is plenty of shopping to keep them occupied.  Look for the Chinese style Junk in the water and its just to the right of that.

They currently brew three beers, all served in cool pint glasses, brewery fresh straight from the tap and we weren't going to miss an opportunity to try them. The first I tried was their "Phuket Lager".  Please don't confuse this with the beers mentioned above as it is completely different.  It looks like a wheat beer (which they also brew on site) but is so soft and rounded that one would not call it a lager in a blind tasting.  There are soft hints of citrus fruit and something like mango or apricot, combined with a mild malty aroma.  Like all their brews the beer contains some Thai ingredients, this one having Thai Gaba rice from the King's Royal Project.

Phuket Lager was a treat

The second one we tried was the Andaman Dark Ale which was reminiscent of a Green King IPA with a little extra kick from using Sao Hai black sticky rice.  It had a good head which lasted nicely to the bottom of the glass and is as close to a pint of bitter that you will find in Phuket.
Just a small word of caution,  I must admit the first time I tried it, it was early in the day and I think I must have been one of the first to order it.  The pint was cloudy and tasted off.  As I didn't know any better I did not complain as I thought that was how it came but it is clear, from a later second tasting that the serving staff are a little inexperienced and had not properly flushed through the pipes that day.  If in doubt go later in the day or ask them to pour you a small sample first.

Andaman Ale: A Classic

I don't know what the alcohol content of these beers were as there was nothing on the menus to tell me and I suspect that they will fluctuate with each batch as it's made, but they were not overpowering and there were no after effects from a good session there.  Prices are more expensive than a normal bar but nothing outrageous for the UK and worth it for something unique.

The website link is if you are interested in finding out more but at the time of writing I could not access it.

Home brewing is illegal in Thailand without a licence but for those of you interested in beers in Thailand can I recommend the following link:-

The website is in its early stages but it is the only Thai specific site set up by an enthusiast rather than the industry and has some decent information on other micro breweries and beers in other parts of the country.  

Friday, 24 May 2013

Standing Room Only....?

An article in the Independent* newspaper on 22 May claimed that Championship clubs had unanimously supported an initiative to back a trial on standing room in parts of the stadium.

For the record, I have no problem with safe standing areas and am happy for any initiative that will invigorate football support.  I just don't feel that many clubs actually need to implement it or that it will have a huge impact on fan numbers.  I tweeted that I couldn't really see the point and received some good arguments as to why standing should be allowed.  However, my reasons are based on the facts about capacity, as set out in the statistics below thanks to the BBC online article on clubs' support* and a bit of help on stadium capacity from Wikipedia*.

I have just taken the Championship for the 2012-13 season and used attendances and stadium capacity to work out the number of empty seats in a stadium.  The two columns on the far right show the % of empty seats based on average attendance and highest attendance respectively.  The excess capacity is calculated as the number of empty seats as a percentage of the stadium capacity.

2012-13 Season Attendance     Excess Capacity
Club Average Highest         Lowest      Capacity     Average  Highest
Barnsley       10,207   15,744              7,844            23,287 56% 32%
Birmingham City       16,702   19,630            13,532            29,409 43% 33%
Blackburn Rovers       14,974   20,735            12,230            31,154 52% 33%
Blackpool       13,916   15,907            12,653            16,007 13% 1%
Bolton Wanderers       18,103   24,844            15,675            28,100 36% 12%
Brighton & Hove Albion       26,236   30,003            23,703            30,750 15% 2%
Bristol City       13,348   19,148            11,836            21,804 39% 12%
Burnley       12,928   21,341            10,450            21,940 41% 3%
Cardiff City       22,998   26,558            20,058            26,847 14% 1%
Charlton Athletic       18,499   26,185            15,585            27,111 32% 3%
Crystal Palace       17,280   22,154            12,757            26,225 34% 16%
Derby County       23,228   33,010            20,063            33,502 31% 1%
Huddersfield Town       15,113   21,614            11,840            24,554 38% 12%
Hull City       17,368   23,812            14,756            25,404 32% 6%
Ipswich Town       17,526   21,988            15,417            30,311 42% 27%
Leeds United       21,572   25,532            16,788            37,914 43% 33%
Leicester City       22,054   25,913              8,585            32,312 32% 20%
Middlesbrough       16,794   28,229            13,377            34,998 52% 19%
Millwall       10,559   18,013              8,607            19,735 46% 9%
Nottingham Forest       23,082   28,707            18,748            30,540 24% 6%
Peterborough United         8,215   13,938              5,435            14,494 43% 4%
Sheffield Wednesday       24,078   31,375            18,922            39,732 39% 21%
Watford       13,453   16,968            11,022            17,477 23% 3%
Wolverhampton Wanderers       21,662   28,595            18,174            30,852 30% 7%

The excess capacity for an average gate in the Championship is 35%.  Even if we do take the highest capacity, which is usually only a couple of key derby games, there is still an average 13% excess capacity.  We need to remember that those highest capacity games don't take place on the same day across all the clubs.

I appreciate that there are practical issues such as separation of terraces holding away supporters from home supporters which might distort things a bit, but from the table only Blackpool, Brighton and Cardiff really have a case for wanting to fit in more fans through a standing area.  For other clubs such as Barnsley, Birmingham and Blackburn, they need to concentrate more on getting fans through the door.

With acknowledgements and thanks to @AlexBowness, @ValleyTalkBlog and @markunderwood9 on twitter for their contributions to the debate (please follow them), some of the arguments for standing terraces are as follows:-

I have to acknowledge that for certain key derby games such as Charlton v Crystal Palace or Millwall would get more people through the gate if the stadiums could support them and standing room would certainly help this.  I don't think that the statistics above accurately reflect those few occasions.

Cheaper Pricing
I can agree with this one if it increases capacity, on the basis that more people can fit in to the stadium, but with the excess capacity shown in the tables there is no need for standing areas to fit in more people.  Initiatives such as Charlton's excellent "Football for a Fiver" days are more effective and have all worked really well to draw in crowds.  The only trouble is that this can annoy existing season ticket holders who have paid full price up front.  Maybe having to stand to get the cheaper ticket might appease this particular group of supporters.

Atmosphere & Novelty Value
Certainly I can see more people might turn up initially if standing areas are introduced.  I know the atmosphere in the away end of a game is usually cracking when we all tend to stand up for the majority of the match, but I think that is more about being the away team and amongst the die hard supporters who will travel to watch their team.  My gut feeling is that it would only attract existing supporters who would attend anyway.

It would allow some more flexibility for groups of people to move to stand together rather than having to find a cluster of free seats in amongst those already sold.

I am reasonably svelte and find the West Stand seating comfortable in terms of leg room, but a number of Charlton fans in other areas of the ground have said that they are cramped in their seats and standing would actually give them more room to stretch out.  Other grounds with older terraces also suffer from this so standing with the appropriate railings might be a decent solution.

Against this, I'm not the tallest of people and I find it difficult to follow the game when taller people are standing in front of me. I know that away ends where the supporters all tend to stand anyway have been rather frightening places for younger kids and have seen a number being lead away in tears to quieter parts of the stand, but of course using the standing terrace would be a choice. 

It will be interesting to see if the proposals are adopted and look forward to the results of the trials.  I certainly won't be standing in the way.

BBC Sport
All those who contributed to the debate on twitter - many thanks

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Charlton Athletic for Beginners

Now that Charlton have a North American tie up with Global Image Sports, I thought this might be a bit of fun on the slight off chance that we might have a few potential fans from across the water wondering what the club is all about.  I’ve only been a supporter since 1996 so other fans will have different memories to me.
If you are a fellow Charlton supporter then please do provide me with some more suggestions.  The guide is meant as a bit of fun so the quirkier the better so I have not included the obvious like how old the club is or what honours we have won (go to Wikipedia for that if you need it).
Where do we play? The Valley (yes because it is in a valley!), South  East London.  “South” is pronounced “Saaarrf” if you want to blend in with the locals.
Nick Name: The Addicks, apparently derived from “Haddock” (it’s a choice between a local chippy providing fish suppers for the players or a match where the fans swung fish around their heads – you decide)
What music do we play:  The stirring build up music is called O Vernoa, which then changes to the charming “Red Red Robin” as the teams come onto the field.  More recently we have added the “A-Team” theme music as the team names are read out.  This really is old school cool and only Charlton can get away with it!  We also have our own song “Valley Floyd Road” sung to the tune of Mull of Kintyre. 
If you’d like to hear this music then can I refer you to the excellent website of Dave Lockwood our match day announcer
Oh, and we also have our own radio show on Meridian radio!
Debt of Thanks:  There are many unsung heroes at Charlton but for me has to go to director and former Chairman Richard Murray who brought us back to the Valley and has devoted his life and money into the club since he became involved.
Weird things we do: Shout “Fiiiish”, every time the goldfish appear in the advert displayed on the big screen.  This is in honour of former defender Mark Fish.
Our Proudest Moment: Controversial question and the answer very much depends on your age.  Some would say it was winning the 1947 FA cup final but for me it was winning the then Division One Playoff final against Sunderland in 1998 to reach the Premiership.
Best TV mention: From Only Fools and Horses

"I didn't know Rodney's middle name was Charlton."
"Yeah, it was me Mum. She was a fan."
    "Of Charlton Heston?"
    "No, Charlton Athletic."

(I found this thanks to @MattJarvisCAFC who is a big Charlton and Only Fools fan)
Worst Charlton Joke: See above !

Who do we get confused with? Whenever I get asked who I support people (mainly foreigners) mistake what I say for Chelsea or oddly Carsholten.  If you are following us on twitter the hastag is #cafc but you’ll also get commentary from Crewe Alexander and Crick Athletic Football Club.
Our Values: We are a family club and proud of our support for the community and academy set up.  The club even went so far as to turn down shirt sponsorship from online gambling companies as they felt it portrayed the wrong image for families and young supporters.
The Opposition: Millwall and Crystal Palace.  Millwall are our closest rivals but in the same way that we don’t really see nearby Leyton Orient as our rivals I don’t think Millwall really care about anyone except West Ham.  Be clear, Charlton fans have a great respect for Millwall football club itself and their former manager Kenny Jackett, we just don’t like the type of fans they unfortunately seem to attract.  The Crystal Palace rivalry was for our treatment when we were forced out of the Valley and had to ground share at Selhurst Park.  For younger supporters our ire was reserved for former owner Simon Jordan.  The fans themselves are a good bunch but we have to maintain the banter! Oh and Gillingham aren't too keen on us either (See below)
Our First in Football History: Charlton’s Keith Peacock became the Football League’s first ever substitute on 21 August 1965.
Things other clubs hate us for: The club runs a regular coach service picking up fans from all over the South East from as far away as Dover and Hastings.  We've been accused by Gillingham of pinching their fan base.

Our favourite Away Fans: Hartlepool United who always turn up en mass in fancy dress on the last away game of the season.  The sight of a stand of Umpa Lumpas or Smurfs in the Jimmy Seed Stand is one of my long standing memories. 

Club Jinx: We always lose any game shown live on TV and our sponsors have had a tendency to go bust.  Witness the demise of Spanish property developer Llanera and before that All: Sports. 
Media: Just like all other fans we believe that we don’t get much coverage in the mainstream press but have a rich vein of consistently good bloggers (see right for a selection) as well as decent coverage from South London Press and the in-house team at and Charlton Live.
What to do after the Game: A pub crawl along the Thames going into Greenwich (especially if you like your real ale).  This will be for a later blog posting.
If you’re still not sure then come along to our long standing pre-season friendly opener against Welling United on 6th July.

Do you have any suggestions as to what else I could include in this list?  All submissions gratefully received and I'll publish another guide somewhere around the start of the season.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

How to Survive a Beer Festival

Well with the football season , almost out of the way, I’m looking forward to concentrating on another great British tradition, the beer festival.  The first ever London's Brewing organised by the London Brewers' Alliance ( took place over the weekend of 3-5 May and first reports sound encouraging although apparently a bit more organisation was required.   

Then of course there is the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) at Olympia ( in August which is a must.
Now of course it does in part depend on what your aim is, but any enjoyable festival trip will usually leave you a tad sozzled. If your aim is to sample some new beers and remember them for the future I hope the following will help.
1. Book your tickets in advance and do a little homework
This will save you queueing on arrival and immediately get down to the job in hand.  If you know in advance the layout of the festival, you'll know what they have on offer and where it is so that you won't miss out on anything. 
2. Arrive early
Its not the most fashionable thing to do these days but its worth it.  Less queues, less danger of beers running out and you'll avoid the scrums of sozzled people all vying for a sample.  You will also avoid the after work hoards
3. Graze and snack.  Its very easy to fill up on the beer
4. Try and order your drinks according to some sort of strength
Start with the lighter pale ales and session beers and them finish off with the crazy stuff.  If you immediately dive into the strong beers your palate will be ruined and anything else after that will just taste like water. 
A friend of mine did this at a recent event starting with a German rauchbier (smoke beer) at 8%.  After that all of his drinks tasted like a barbecue in his mouth.
Alternatively, I sometimes just stick to one style of beer during the whole session.
Lovely drop of Ale at GBBF
5. Use your smart phone
If like me you wish to impart your experience in a blog, it’s pretty difficult to keep tabs on all the beers you tried so just take a photo of each of them.  This will also give you a chronological order  The photo shown is one I took at last year’s GBBF .  You could use your electronic note pad or email to write notes or just stick your thumb up or down in the picture to indicate your approval of said beer.
6. Ask!
Beer festivals are usually staffed by volunteers but some of the specialist stands or larger breweries will have staff from the breweries on hand.  Many will have had an opportunity to sample or will have had feedback from other festival goers and it doesn’t do any harm to get an idea of a beer's characteristics before you buy from the person manning the pumps.
7. Its not about the volume
The introduction of the third of a pint measure is a recent but thoroughly sensible innovation that has appeared at beer festivals.  You don’t even have to stick with a third pint glass as the full pint glasses have third and half pint markers down the side of them.  Remember, if you like a beer you can always come back for more.  It may be sacrilege in some people's books but don’t be afraid to throw away drinks you don’t like them, or even better share them with a friend. 
8. Have fun!
The most important rule which goes without saying and if it means throwing all this guidance out the window then I say go for it !!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

I am a Seagull

No I haven't gone loopy or all existentialist on you (some might disagree), but for one week only I will be supporting Brighton and Hove Albion in the Championship Playoff Finals and here, in my completely biased and non-factual reasoning is why.

Brighton's path has gone through similar trials and tribulations to that of Charlton so many of us have a deep empathy with them.  They've had to ground share at Gillingham for a while and have had a long and arduous battle with the local council to get planning permission for the superb Amex stadium (all sound familiar?).  Following years of what some have called financial mismanagement they appear to be on a prudent financial footing and have a good manager in the form of Gus Poyet.  If they get promoted I will miss our trips to the coast, but I feel that they do deserve another crack at the Championship. 

Watford, or to give them their real name the Udinese B team, have forced their way into the playoffs through a group of loan players.  While I have a lot of admiration for Zola, this is not what I call a proper team and for me personally I don't see Watford as having earned their spurs to have a go at the Premiership, for this year at least.

No further explanation is needed as to why I don't wish to see Crystal Palace in the Premier League but I will tell you anyway.  I want to see more London derbies next year and continue our rivalry for at least one more year and claw back some bragging rights after losing the double to them this season.  However at some stage I really do want to see a head to head between Ian Holloway and Paulo de Canio for purely entertainment purposes.  This could be a distinct possibility next season given Sunderland's current position.

Finally, have you noticed how returning former Charlton players keep on scoring at the Valley?  Well we now have our own man in the form of Yann Kermogant who just can't stop scoring against his old team Leicester.  It would be a shame if he could not to keep on haunting them with his trade mark "Sssshhh" at least for another season, so please Leicester stay down and keep us company for another year.

Hence I am a Seagull for a short while before returning to being an Addick.

All the Charlton talk today will undoubtedly be on the release of Wagstaff, Fuller, Kerkar and Taylor.  I have seen young Waggy grow up through the Charlton ranks and there is plenty more to come from this fellow if he is given the game time.  I've had compliments about him from other team's fans and I am sure he will find a suitable home.  Fuller was class but I believe the financial pressures at Charlton meant that we really needed more game time from him to afford a further contract.

In my last blog I mentioned ex Charlton youth Sean McGinty who had gone to Manchester United.  By coincidence he popped up as a trialist at Leicester City under 21s in their game against Cardiff last night (source @CAFCofficial on twitter) where he scored an own goal.  If the press reports are correct I don't think this has been his only own goal recently.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Championship...its no laughing matter

I never cease to be amazed at the cache of the Premier League.  When I go away on holiday to the Far East, all the locals have Manchester United or Arsenal shirts.  Premier clubs have their own official shops in certain holiday locations.  For certain big matches such as Liverpool v Chelsea the TV stations organise fan zones with large screens in parks and plazas and catch the reaction of the locals all decked out in the latest kit.

Last Stop at the Valley for this Season
While the Premier League gets all the plaudits (and fair play to them for their clever marketing which to some extent does benefit all clubs in England) I don’t believe it’s the best league in the world or even England

For me it must be the Championship.  This is the tightest and most combative league I have ever witnessed.  On the last day of the season, twelve (ie half) of the teams had something to play for.  Once the dust had settled, there were only 14 points between Leicester, the lowest play off qualifier and Peterboro, the highest team to drop down to League one.

As I have said previously, the Championship is no respecter of history or previous form.  Relegated Peterborough have done the double over champions Cardiff and Wolves have been relegated again after dropping into this league last year.  One only has to look at the number of clubs that have tasted the top league that are now in this division to show how tough it is.

Why is this so?  Finances must play some part, although I’m not sure I have figured out how.  Teams dropping down from the Premier League have parachute payments which in theory should help them maintain their squad but very few teams seem to manage to bounce back immediately.

I remember when Charlton first dropped down from the Premier league nothing changed, the team stayed the same and there were no drastic cut backs.  The result was an immediate promotion.  That was of course in a prior time and with the money now involved in the Premier League and the need to invest to secure top status I believe that this is unfortunately no longer possible.

Certain small teams have had their sugar daddy that has taken on a lower league team and brought them up through the ranks, witness Fulham who I believe have been one of the more successful at this route.  It doesn’t always worked though (or as quickly as one would have liked) for many teams.  Both Leicester and Forest have found it tricky but it looks like things are potentially now working out for them.

The Championship also consists of a mixture of hungry youths and experienced former Premier league players, that you don’t find elsewhere.  Limited budgets mean that Championship teams have to nuture their home grown talent and rely on their academy teams or scouting networks.  The other thing the Championship does is give those youngsters a much earlier chance whereas their Premier counterparts are much more cautious given the higher stakes.  The Championship also benefits from loans from the premier clubs from both the senior and youth academies.  Does anyone remember Charlton youth Sean Mcginty that went to Manchester United?  I thought that would be the last we would ever see of him as he got lost within the Red’s youth and reserve system.  Yet he has been out on loan now to a number of league one sides and I believe is now currently helping out Tranmere Rovers.  He is still young and has plenty to look forward to.  On the other hand a couple of his contempories have now had Championship experience.  I doubt Casey Palmer will get much of a look over the next couple of years after his move to Chelsea unless he too goes out on loan.

Despite the analysis by the pundits every Saturday evening I do not believe that the quality of the refereeing plays any part as its a level playing field for us all.

Valley Faithfull: See you next Season!
So what do you think?  Am I on the right lines or talking complete garbage?  Let me know your thoughts, as I’d be interested to know and would like to do a follow up piece with other views.

At the Valley, Chris Powell gave a very eloquent end of season speech yesterday in which he singled out the fact that we had finished in the top half of the Championship effectively with our league one side.  Despite a disappointing start we’ve had value for money from a close knit team and the away supporters especially have been rewarded for their loyalty.

With QPR dropping down and with a bit of luck Brentford being promoted we Charlton supporters will have plenty of London derbies to look forward to next year and I can’t wait for the Championship again!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

....and Relax

If anyone had said to me at the start of the season that Charlton would end up in the top half of the Championship I would have snapped their hands off.  So it was extremely pleasing to note that we secured our place with a number of games to go and even had a faint whiff of making the playoffs.

Despite this I still caught myself wondering once or twice what if we had managed to hold on to our 1-0 lead at our first game of the season against Birmingham and various other times that we had conceded injury time goals.

I also have to admit to a sneaking suspicion that we might just have snuck into the playoffs this year as it would be sods law that I have a long standing engagement on the particular dates these are played.

So we can sit back and relax on Saturday as the other teams below us fight to retain their Championship survival, while others have the more enviable task of qualifying for the playoffs.  I know it certainly won’t be a calm lunchtime for many rival fans.  The fact that there is so much to play for on the last day shows just how exciting and tough this division is, and that it has no respect for reputation, just pure gutsy and determined play. I wouldn't have it any other way.

The changes in players began earlier than expected at Charlton on Wednesday, with John Sullivan and Yado Mambo announcing on Twitter that they would be leaving the club.  The rumour mill has already started about other changes at the Valley but we will have to see how generous Uncle Tony is with the purse strings.  Although there have been signs that Dany N’Guessan will leave Millwall this summer, I firmly believe that we have moved on from this long term Charlton target, with plenty of options in the current squad, and he will not be joining us.
I've been thinking long and hard about what to write about over the coming months and have a few treats in stall for readers.  Watch this space !