Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Rochdale 2 -0 Charlton

I have to say I'm not really surprised by this result. I was incredibly pleased with the performance against Southampton, and the result there and at Bournemouth. Both of those two results were a bonus as far as I’m concerned.

I really believed that we were going to find ourselves in a relegation battle before I saw us against Southampton. I was encouraged by that game and really thought that we would be able to get another couple of points, and as I pointed out previously we are almost certainly going to be safe with 51 points, and 50 could well be enough.

Bournemouth was a bonus, and it made us unbeaten in two, but just like I was not convinced by the performances when we won four on the bounce at the start of Powell’s reign, I was not really bowled over with two draws, especially as Southampton seemed nervous to go on to kill us off at 1-0, letting us back into it, and Bournemouth should have scored at least three goals in the last five minutes, and from all accounts we were very lucky there.

There has been some suggestion on Charlton Life that we played well yesterday and deserved to win. However, despite not wanting to sound hypocritical (criticising wins when we play badly) at this point we need a win to be sure of being in this division next season. I no longer care for good performances when we lose – especially as we have failed to put back to back performances together all season.

If we underperform on Saturday against a Orient team that really can still make the playoffs, and beat us at home last season then we will be back where we started.

Dave has a good analysis of what the run in and the potential implications, and I don’t intend to covering the same here, but I do agree with his conclusion. You would think that we would be able to secure at least one more win by mere statistics, but if you work on the basis that we have only performed well in about ten percent (or less) of the games since Powell came in, there is a real possibility that last night took all that our players have to offer for the last ten games.

I still think that we must be able to luck a win from somewhere, and with Walsall needing to make up ten points, Dagenham & Redbridge nine and Notts Co. eight we might well have enough points already. Walsall only have seven games left, which gives them a maximum 21 points. Even if we lose our next six games (possible but not very likely) I still think we will be safe if we draw at their place on 30th April. However I’m beginning to think that a defeat there will take us into the last game of the season with something to play for.

I know we have a game in hand over them but if you assume that we will lose it (and it is, technically, Southampton away) it will only make our goal difference worse and is unlikely to yield any points. In fact with a goal difference that is 13 better that Walsall, one big defeat and four other losses during this time and we could well lose gap.

As Dave says, if anyone can, we can.

One bit of good news, however, is that I am going to Florida on Sunday for two weeks to see Mickey Mouse. Needless to say my six year old son is getting excited but nowhere as near as excited as I’m getting. Work has been really good for the last twelve months, and I’m encouraged both by that and the future outlook. My Son is doing well at school and it looks as though Mrs KHA is going to be getting a promotion this week (fingers crossed). All in all everything in the Kings Hill Addick household is looking rosy – save for the rubbish football team, of course.

I know this sounds mad now but we deliberately booked to fly on the Sunday as we didn’t want to miss the Orient game. My whole life has been arranged around Charlton home fixtures for years – no more!

The only disappointment about our two week holiday is that we are not going to miss more than one game – Huddersfield.

When we get back we will have just four games left. By then it could be really interesting. It could be squeaky bum time, as Alex Fergusson likes to say.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

An audience with Chris Powell

I have been to a few meetings over the years with club officials. I've seen Richard Murray speak several times and went to the Slater/Powell meeting at The Valley earlier this year. These meetings are always interesting, and you often get an idea of the thoughts behind those running the club.

The manager is a different proposition all together. You get much more insight into the thoughts of those making the footballing decisions, and you often learn a few things about players that you didn't know and this can often change your perspective on things.

I went along to Bromley Supporters Club last year to hear Parkinson speak and he was a revelation. He was very, very open and my view of him. both as a manager and a man, changed.

Sadly he was not able to complete what he started at Charlton, and this is not the time nor the place to debate that. However his replacement is going to following into the cauldron that is the Bromley Supporter's Club.

The following was posted on Charlton Life by Henry Irving:

"This will be members only.

If you aren't a member or just too tight to pay up like Rothko : - ) you can pay on the night. Your membership will cover you for the 2011/12 season.

£5 adults, £3 Seniors and free to students in full time education.

Money left after costs goes back to the Football Club in some form or another anyway such as shirt sponsorship, Valley Gold or Sponsoring the U15s tracksuits.

Usual venue.

Bickley and Widmore WM Club
Tylney Road

8.00 pm start

People will moan that "no one will ask him a difficult question" or say after the event that "Why didn't anyone ask blah, blah, blah." Well come along and ask the question yourself. It's only £5 and it's only in Bromley.

Those that have been to the meetings before will tell you that the difficult questions ARE asked and answered.
No pre-set questions, no vetting. You just stick your hand up and ask.

They'll be the usual raffle for a signed Charlton shirt and the bar is open.
There will be plenty of opportunity for photos and autographs if you want.
See you all there."

I haven't edited what he wrote, and I doubt that there are many reading this that do not pop onto Charlton Life from time to time so you probably already know, but just in case you didn't....

Up the Addicks!

The Season Ticket Scandal

I'm not sure how long the club keep information of season ticket holders. I know it was mentioned on Charlton Life some time ago that the club doesn't know how long current season ticket holders have had their ticket - not seat as some have had them since we played at Selhurst Park, Upton Park and during various building schemes at The Valley. Thus, those of us that were season ticket holders at Selhurst Park were not differentiated against by those that bought s ST in the Premier League to turn up half a dozen times a season to watch the glamour games.

Admittedly there are probably none of those type left now, but if the historical information is discarded we are all treated the same.

Having said that most businesses are infinitely more interested in how much money than can extract from their customers in the future, opposed to how much they have gave in the past, so we can hardly be surprised or disappointed. Also, for obvious reasons, the more likely one is to renew the less effort should be expended to convince him to do so. In fact, the majority of the budget should be allocated to those that might not renew. Loyalty is a great thing, and shouldn’t really be taken for granted, but equally if you are ever going to take someone for granted it should be one of those that are most loyal, as you can trust them to be there what ever happens.

I seriously doubt that these discussions have not gone on. It would be irresponsible of the Target 40,000 committee and their associates if they did not target those that the club are most likely to lose. I appreciate that it must be difficult to identify the specific groups, and it might be more expensive to market them in different ways, however, the price that will be charged in the summer, along with the ‘threat’ of fans losing their seats is likely to be more pivotal for renewals for those that don’t do so in April.

This leaves the club with a dilemma. Do you need to be seen to be treating the loyal (will renew at any price and when ever the club demand it) fans by them getting a better deal for renewing early, or do you want to offer better terms to those that refuse to renew with the current prices in April but could be tempted in June, July or August.

I know it is different, but there are similarities between this and the football for a fiver scheme, which looks to reward exactly the least loyal customers. The cheap football was, in effect, a financial reward for those that declined the option to buy a season ticket in March 2010, again in June (before swap week) again in August just before the season started, and again in September when a deal was made after a few games and again at Christmas when, I believe, the last PR campaign was run for part season tickets.

It would be business suicide for the club to reduce the prices in the summer to incentivise those that didn’t renew in April, but it would also be a little naive to think that those who didn’t commit for next season in April would be willing to pay more and/or switch their seat in June, July or August.

I believe there is a real possibility of those fans choosing to pay as they go. I’m not suggesting that any of them will stop supporting Charlton, but all the time we have seen no visible signs of actual squad rebuilding, and quality being added at that, there is the temptation to believe that some of the midweek games (especially in the winter) and the run in if it is going to anything like this one present very missable games. If there are enough of these missable games, combined with the odd football for a fiver deal and one or two family occasions it might even work out cheaper – this is before you factor in the cost of paying for a whole year upfront.

The club have a very difficult decision to make about future sales of season tickets. Promotion is virtually impossible now, as is relegation (thankfully), so the marketing people will have to weigh up the cost of losing some season ticket holders against the risk of upsetting those that will always renew irrespective as to how they are treated.

They also need to ensure that their credibility is intact. This is the second year in a row that the club made it perfectly clear that no seats will be guaranteed if you don’t renew early (and I think March and April is very, very early) yet I don’t know of any seats being made available before the swap week last year and current season ticket holders were given plenty of time to renew, at the same prices, before swap week commenced.

I have no real reason to assume that the club will not follow through on all the promises that have been made, all be it that they are vague enough to make it impossible to prove otherwise, even after the event, but I do know that if they intended to build a squad on the cheap they would have said exactly what they have done. Significant investment could be £10m on transfer fees; it could just as easily be describing bridging the gap between income and expenditure for another year – which was estimated to be £4m this season. The difference in playing staff of those two is massive.

I believe that last year many fans renewed in March as they believed that there was a very real possibility that they would lose their seat if they didn’t. The way that the club ensured that no one lost their seat as long as they renewed in June last year makes that threat seem a little toothless this time around. With promotion off the agenda now, a Championship priced ticket looks very unlikely now too.

So why would anyone renew in April for something that they will not benefit from until August, and can almost certainly buy in June, probably late June at that?

Many of Charlton Life have stated that they have renewed already, and I’m sure there are many others that will also commit to next season before the end of this week, despite the worst run of results (and I’m guessing based on the division we are in) in the clubs history.

They are clearly very loyal fans. I have to say that I admire them. I used to think of myself as a loyal fan. During my three years at Kent University (in Canterbury) I didn’t miss one home game. I also attended every home game when I lived in Sheffield for a year – quite a financial commitment for a student. I have most of the replica shirts that have been available since the 1980s onwards and I have a program for just about every home game for well over 20 years. I have had a season ticket every year since 1989, and I have been obsessed with Charlton since before then and am still now.

However, I felt a little conned in 2008 when the club’s representatives pushed the free Premier League season ticket offer for the second year running only to sell several of the best players after the deadline had gone to balance the books. I felt mislead in the summer of 2009 when the ‘Takeover’ was going to be completed in a week for months while season tickets were being sold. The, then, Chief Executive promised that the club would sack the manager and get us a new one if we bought enough season tickets - something that is now claimed to be a joke but wasn’t thought of as being one at the time. All the while the board were refusing to allow Parkinson to bring in players to make the side much more balanced as it was suggested that after the takeover we would have so much more money that we would be signing better players.

Last summer the club did exactly what it said it was going to do. We sold everything that had a value and renewed none of the contracts of players on good money and allowed them to leave for free (something that we couldn’t have stopped, to be fair). However there was this ‘offer’ made of two divisions one price. The price for the next season would be held at the current price and you would be able to secure your seat (opposed to losing it) if you committed by the end of March.

Then in May, with automatic promotion sill a possibility and the playoffs guaranteed (from memory) we allowed Shelvey to leave and not be involved in the most important games of the season to raise money.

I understand the need to raise money, and I also know that my season ticket price is a drop in the ocean compared to what the board have invested (and in most cases lost) but I still feel as though I have been misled at best, lied to at worst.

This season, like last, I am not going to renew early. I have my season ticket application pack, not that I think I’ll need it as I will purchase online if it is going to save me £5, and I can’t see me being anywhere else than at The Valley on a Saturday afternoon when my Dad is not away. But, I feel as though my loyalty has been abused. I know some will claim that we have new owners and I should give them the benefit of the doubt, but I doubt that it is a coincidence that the club has many of the same employees and consultants strategising on Season Ticket sales, and the ‘threats’ of what happens if you don’t renew early look the same as last year.

For that reason I’m going to wait until the summer. If the price is increased slightly, and/or the board make what I believe to be impressive investments in the playing staff I’ll renew then. If, however, they put the price up a lot and/or sell my current seat to someone else then I’ll not renew at all. Then those selling tickets will have to keep impressing me with the football each week to tempt me to come to the next game, something the club has failed miserably to do in at least three of the last five years.

If this makes me disloyal then so be it.

Since I started my love affair with Charlton, thirty years ago, I have been all the way through senior school, ‘A’-Level college, University, twice, had major open heart surgery, started two business, got married and become a Dad. During all that time Charlton has been the one constant in my life (apart from my family), but I have a full life, and I now love other parts of it more than I love football. Can I take it or leave it? No, I can’t. Can I cope with being a little lower on the ‘Loyal Supporter’ ladder by not having a season ticket? Yes I can.

Time will tell.

Up the Addicks!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Next... Southampton at home

As we enter the the last eleven games of the season we have a much better idea of how likely the top two is, how likely the play offs are and how likely relegation is. Ignoring deviation (which I know distorts the results) the average number of points achieved by the team finishing 2nd in this division over the last five seasons in this 86. 6th place had an average of 74.8 (let's call it 75). The average number of points the fifth from bottom team achieved was 50 and two thirds (50.6 recurring - let's call it 51).

We currently have 48 points with 33 to play for. That means that we must finish on between 48 and 81 points. Realistically that makes the automatic places beyond our reach. However in 2006 Colchester (with a Mr Phil Parkinson in charge) finished second with 79 points above Brentford in third with 76 points. Thus, potentially, we could have won automatic promotion with 77 points - a massive four points less than we still could achieve. That means that we could lost tomorrow night or draw tomorrow and at Bournemouth and still go up without the need for the playoffs.

The 75 that I suspect we would need to make the playoffs would only require that we only win nine of our remaining eleven games. Certainly if we win them all 81 points would be enough (the maximum a sixth placed team has achieved is 80, and that was last season. I would also suggest that if we go into the playoffs on the back of an eleven game winning run we would have to be considered the 'form' team and I would be confident of a successful conclusion.

However, I am not all that confident, as things stand, that we are going to win our next eleven games, or nine of them for that mater. So we find ourselves looking down. First the good news, we are only one win away from having the magic 51 points that would be enough to keep a side up in four of the last five seasons. One win and a draw would be enough to keep us up in all of the last five seasons.

The bad news, however, is that if all the teams below us manage to replicate their last six games over the next six the team forth from bottom would have 46 points - we have 48 and have to go to Walsall in the penultimate game of the season, and they managed 9 points in their last six games - they are nine points behind us and are currently forth from bottom.

The biggest worry for me is that we haven't looked like winning a game since Parkinson left (despite winning four that we had no right to) In fact if you take those twelve points away, or even make them four (i.e. four draws) we have managed just 9 points since the 20th of November, fully 18 games. If you assume we'd lost all four of those games (and from what I saw we could easily have done so) we have managed five points from 18 games. Scary stuff eh?

You can see why I'm no longer looking at MK Dons remaining fixtures can't you? Our average points haul since 20th November is 0.94 per game. The good news, however, is that there are four teams with a worse average during that time than us. Sadly this doesn't take into account the 12 points we won with pure luck. Take them away and we have the lowest return in the league for that four month period.

So, on that basis I think New York Addick might well be in the money with his hedging on us being relegated. It looks like we have enough points with eleven games to go, but if we perform as well (and get what those performances deserve) as we did in the last eleven games we are going to be very close when the fat lady opens her throat.

In some respects it makes the end of the season more exciting. Sure it's not the kind of excitement we had all hoped for, but exciting none the less.

This is, of course, assuming that Chris Powell doesn't have any special tricks (or Jedi Skills) up his sleeve to snatch two wins out of that eleven. Who knows, anything can happen.

Southampton have never been my favourite second team, and the way they knocked their debt a couple of years ago still annoys me, but right now (post Pardew) they are nothing more than another game in which we can look to secure the magic three points we need this season. I don't want to be too greedy, I'd take a point tomorrow night.

In fact, I'm not sure I would turn down a 2-0 defeat right now our goal difference is better than Walsall and Dagenham and Redbridge, but a couple of 5-0 defeats and that would all change.

There is so much doom and gloom about right now it's difficult to feel any enthusiasm for the club or the football that we have been watching - hardly the best time for the club to asking for season ticket renewals, but we are where we are.

I will be there tomorrow night, I am not exactly looking forward to it, but who knows, maybe we will play well and win - stranger things have happened.

Up the Addicks!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Next... Chelsea v Man City

This weekend I'm being saved from watching us lose again. With our season over, save for a flirt with relegation that I predict early in April, there is no real interest in our result, not now.

So, I was delighted when I was offered a ticket for the Chelsea v Man City game that is on Sky on Sunday. I am a little indifferent as to who wins if I'm honest, but as I'm going with a Chelsea fan who is supplying the ticket, and as we are in the home section I will be a Chelsea fan for two hours.

Make no mistake I will not defect on a permanent basis, but I am really looking forward to seeing some decent football and not feeling embarrassed by the result. The truth is that of all the teams in the current third division Dagenham and Redbridge are probably the team that it would be most embarrassing to lose to. With us only drawing against them at home I can see this being a season to not remember between the two sides for all Chalton fans.

Anyway, I will not be there, and I will probably not bother listening to the commentary, and I have today cancelled my current subscription to CAFC Player as there is going to be little to see or hear on there of any interest from now until August. That will save me £15.96, which I can spend on a few pints and a burger at Stanford Bridge.

I don't intend to do a match preview, as I doubt there are any Chelsea or Man City fans reading this, save for my last boss who is taking me, but I guess he will hear enough of my drivel on Sunday.

To those that are going to Dagenham and Redbridge I salute you. I just don't have it in me any more this season.

Blue is the colour...

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

MK Dons 2 - 0 Charlton

Let's ignore the fact that we beat them at home and really, really didn't deserve to. Let's ignore the fact that we beat them 5-1 last season when they were clearly better than the score line. Let's ignore the fact that we've beaten them five times in the last two seasons (this and last). Let's look at the implications of this result, and the importance of the game on our season.

Actually, let's not. Parkinson might have put this team together and that might be a disadvantage to Chris Powell, but there is no getting away from it, we have performed well below Parkinson's teams since he left. I know there is an argument that not beating a ten man Brighton and Colchester were not exactly great achievements, but to be fair Colchester were on a bit of a run when we played them (4 wins and a draw in 7), and Brighton have been a little bit good all season.

Sure the Walsall and Swindon games were poor, but they were no worse than Exeter, Carlisle or Tranmere. This season Parkinson managed to average 1.54 points per game, Powell, with Eccleston and BWP has averaged 1.3 points per game. I know it's early days for Powell, but out of interest last season MK Dons averaged 1.3 points over the season and finished 12th. Also it needs to be mentioned that Powell's ten games have come against teams that were in an average position of 13th when we played them. We won four games and were, shall we say, a little fortunate, then we lost five and drew one out of six.

What this tells me is that we have not improved. We have actually gone backwards. We have released the two strikers that we had that could be used as target men and brought in two that clearly cannot. We have now committed to playing a different style of game from long ball (something we have done for over a year - including in most of Powell's games). We just do not have the players for the pretty passing on the floor - not if we want to see any forward passes.

I know it's early to be jumping to conclusions (and believe me I really want to be proved wrong) but it looks like Chris Powell is out of his depth. His substitutions on Saturday were too ineffective - mainly because they were way too late, and the way the team is being sent out to play is just not suited to the type of players we have. I know he's new, but surely he has seen these players in training and watched a few videos of our games.

It seems like a decade ago now that Michael Slater answered the question about the criteria of the new manager that 'he needed to win the first three games', followed by laughter and cheers from the fans in the North Stand Lounge.

We will never know what would have happened if Dowie had been kept on in 2006, we will never know what would have happened if Pardew had been kept on in 2008 and we will never know what would have happened if Parkinson had been kept on in 2011, but one thing for sure is that the club has failed to get as high in the league pyramid as it was at the time of any of those sackings since.

How long does Powell have to be given to turn things around? I don't know. The truth is that, unlike an experienced manager with a long term track record, there is no evidence that Powell will turn it around. I know you can never tell and some managers are good at some places, and rubbish at others, but if Chris Powell is never going to make it as a football manager then the longer we leave him in his post the worse off we are likely to be.

I don't want to be accused of panicking, and I'm not calling for his removal, even though others are, and more will the longer we continue to look this poor, but at some point things have got to improve or he will have to go, I guess.

The worst thing is that we are most likely too far away from 6th place now to make the playoffs a realistic target, but if the performances continue as they are we might be pulled into a relegation battle. I know that is very unlikely, and I'm not suggesting it is going to happen. However, the board are going to have to do something to lift the fans enthusiasm to renew their season tickets. If we continue to slide (even a few wins along the way are likely to see us fall down the league) then the renewals are likely to be dependent on summer signings. Despite suggestions to the contrary I suspect that summer signings will be dependent (maybe even financed by) season ticket sales.

Thus we are likely to need to bring in expensive loan signings this spring even when they are likely to make no appreciable difference to our season just to help sell season tickets. I know we have a new board, but for each of the last four years the season tickets have been marketed and sold with the 'suggestion' that what you were going to get was significantly better than what actually happened.

In 2007 the season tickets were sold with the potential of avoiding relegation from the Premier League, and a free ticket if we were relegated and then promoted at the first attempt. We finished 11th in the Championship in 2008.

In 2008 the season tickets were sold with a free ticket if we are promoted, and the promise that the club would do everything in their power to achieve that. Then over the summer we sold Bougherra for £2.5m, Marcus Bent and Amady Faye for about £1m each, and McCarthy and Iwelumo for about £500k each. That raised c. £5.5m and we only brought in Nicky Bailey for £400k. Apparently we were ready to sell ZZ for a further £2.5m but he didn't want to go to WBA. I would say that this was hardly doing everything they could to win promotion - we were actually relegated the follwing spring.

In 2009 the season tickets were sold with the backdrop of the 'Takeover' that club insiders promised was going to happen 'within a week' every week for two months. This was also at a time when we were promised that negotiations were ongoing to see if we could keep ZZ, Hudson and a few others (that I can't be bothered to look up) all of whom were long gone by the time the season started. Needless to say the takeover didn't happen either. That summer there were suggestions that if we had new owners there would probably be a new manager who would want to bring in his own players, so there was no point in Parkinson signing any. He didn't and we had a very unbalanced side and finished 4th and missed out on the playoff final.

Last summer there were few promises, except that the club would look to manage budgets and would expect to be well positioned to challenge for the playoffs. However, before the summer, we sold season tickets in March (many of which were for 5 seasons), we sold Shelvey in May and went on to sell Bailey late in the summer - long after the deadline for the swap week had passed (the true deadline to renew your seat). In all honesty I think the club had (until Parkinson was sacked) achieved just about all it 'suggested' when selling season tickets in the summer. However, the season tickets were originally marketed in March as being a good deal for the Championship if we went up. There was also the cleverly worded 'suggestion' that if you didn't renew by 31st March there was no guarantee that you could keep your seat. There was some debate about this at the time, but it was clear to me that the club were not going to sell fans seats out from under them in April, but still I would suggest that the club positioned the tickets as being for something that was very different from what we got.

So, what happens at the end of this month if we fail to perform better in the next six games than the last six, and there are no player movements to add credibility that the board are going to back the manager? Rochdale in 13th are just two points behind us, Brentford who we play on Saturday are 16th and just five points behind us. It is hardly unrealistic to suggest that we could be in the bottom third of the third division by the time the deadline for the current price expires. The club has not promised that there will not be a price rise even if we are not promoted if you don't renew by 4th April. I'm tempted to risk ridicule by saying that I am confident that the club will not put the prices up in June if we fail to win promotion.

This all suggests that the club will almost certainly have to bring in more loan players between now and the end of the season, irrespective as to the cost, or they might find they will sell very few season tickets before June (or even later). I guess it doesn't help that the season ticket application packs haven't arrived yet.

I don't have much to say about tonights game. Fom what I could establish on the commentary we played like we did against Exeter and Carlisle, and got what we deserved. I don't think there is much nore to say really.

There is some good news, however. Today I went to my six year old son's Parents' Evening, and it would appear that he is doing very well at school - something that I haven't always been able to say, and he was described by his teacher (who I liked a lot before she said it, and even more afterwards) as a very nice boy. His reading has improved significantly and it would appear that he has a bit of a flair for Maths, and his only real weakness is that he doesn't like writing, especially joined up writing, and needs to remember capital letters and adjectives. Clearly there is a little bit of a conflict of interest as I would likely have been a very unsatisfied customer had she said something too critical, but it's nice all the same. It's also nice when your football club is slipping down the toilet if something else in your life can compensate by going in the other direction.

The other piece of good news is that my Dad is back for Saturday so I will not be driving up to game on my own again. Having said that I had a very pleasant chat with Dave and his friends before, and during, the game last Saturday - something I will hope to do again when my Dad is away.

Up the Addicks!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Next... Tranmere at home

I decided to wait until today before posting anything as I wanted to avoid being too emotional.

Strangely, I wasn't angry. I went to the game with an old friend of mine, and we had a good laugh. We used to work together and don't see each other very often now, so we could have done anything and we would have enjoyed each other's company. Just as well really.

That was (when taken into context of what has gone before) the most rubbish football game I have attended. There were goals, we scored one, we weren't really taken apart and in the end we only lost by two goals. That said it was cold, we played rubbish, and when all's said and done we have managed to lose four games in a row in the 3rd division. Between the 4th and the 18th of April 1981 we lost four games, and went on to finish third. That statistic is the only thing that stops this the worst run since I started going to Charlton, but it does equal it. However, we didn't concede three goals at home in that whole season, in fact you have to go back to March 1926 for the last time we conceded three goals in back to hack home games in this division, and we drew one of those 3-3. In all fairness we did draw the last home game of 1972-73 3-3 before losing the first game of the new season 4-2 at The Valley, but you get my point.

It is just rubbish. This must surely be the worst position the club has been in since I started going in 1981, and taking into account all other factors (our recent past, the fact that in the 1920s we were a young Football League club, the current set-up, expectations and running costs) this must be the worst state of affairs.

In fact, I can't ever remember deciding to avoid a league game on a Saturday. I've passed on a couple of FA Cup games against lower league opposition over the years, but not a league game. I've had a season ticket since 1989, and have missed just a couple of games since then (when I had a heart valve transplant) but after Tuesday night I decided that I would find something else to do on Saturday. Remember that I don't even have to pay for the ticket - or, rather, I've already paid for it.

I thought that by now I would have changed my mind. I thought that I would have accepted the inevitable, and that is that I always go, irrespective. However, my resolve seems to have hardened. It's not as though I have a family wedding, or the like, to go to, I have, obviously, kept the day free as I always go to the games. No, I have come to the conclusion that even with an already paid for ticket I would rather stay home and sit on the sofa or be marched 'round Bluewater with Mrs, and Junior, KHA than go to the Valley on Saturday.

I have to confess that a lot of this is that my Dad is away, and when I go with him, rather like Tuesday night with my friend, the game is a social event and well worth the dross that I have seen.

It is only Thursday, and I may well change my mind between now and Saturday afternoon, but right now I don't want to go; I don't care if we win, lose or draw; I don't even think I'll bother looking at the scores until after the final whistle.

If this is what we can expect then I'll probably be reviewing my season ticket renewal this season. My Dad goes away for a large part of the winter, and misses at least six games a season - it's normally nearer ten. With the 'promotional' days where the tickets are cheap, the games on TV and the cold evening games that we might both choose to miss I am confident the season ticket will cost more than paying as we go. This and the fact that unless something drastic changes we will be averaging close to half the capacity next season I am hardly going to struggle to sit where I want to - I might even like to move around the ground like my Dad used to do in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Again, I have plenty of time to change my mind on this, and even if I do pay as I go, I will probably get another season ticket if/when the club starts playing better and/or wins promotion. Having said that I'm not sure we sold all the available season tickets back in the Premier League days, so I doubt I'll miss out altogether.

I am not going to review the game here, if you were there you saw it, and if you didn't you are better off in ignorance.

I hate Tranmere and, under normal circumstances, would love us to beat them, but right now, I really don't care.

Something needs to change, and soon.

Up the Addicks!