Its unlike me to talk about football here – well, its unlike me to talk about any sport at all anywhere at all really. But this is a blog about places in general and south-east London in particular, and the two professional football teams with pretensions to be the local team for south-east London are in the running for promotion from League One to what I still think of as the Third Division to the Second – that is from League One to the Championship.
And that is a matter of some local importance. And I think Millwall will probably make it, and Charlton probably won’t.
Why such a low opinion of Charlton? Well, I was at the Millwall-Charlton match on the 13th March. I saw all ninety minutes. Charlton turned up as well, but the left about half an hour before full-time.
It was as they say a game of two halves. Or rather a two-thirds and a one-third. The first half was really boring. Both teams were playing for safety. Millwall got a goal just before half time, but it was lucky, and (for the home crowd) not enough. Charlton had the better of a rather dull play. Millwall supporters were slagging off their own team.
At half time I went out for a fag and spent the first ten minutes of the second half downstairs chatting to a bloke who works at our place and drinking overpriced lager while watching the rather boring game on the internal TV. Then I had a piss (the bogs are full of smokers) and went back into the stand – which took about ten minutes as the rather odd local interpretation of “all seater stadium” and “all ticket match” meant that there were some hundreds more spectators than seats and we were jostling for good spots on the stairs (I never got to sit down at all – I was standing on the steps just behind the Charlton goal – I and a couple of others got knocked over by rejoicing fans at one point).
Millwall substituted Neil Harris on, as they usually do in the second half. And the local crowd got behind their team, as they usually do when Harris comes on. And, right in front of my eyes, Charlton fell apart. They fell out of their collective pram. Maybe it was the psychological effect of playing in front of the loudest crowd in the league. They walked backwards off the end of the pier. They collapsed. Harris set up Hackett who tried for a goal and it bounced in off a Charlton player. They were stunned and didn’t know what to do. Within two minutes Morison (who the Millwall fans had been screaming stuff I wouldn’t want to repeat at in the first half) scored another goal (from the angle I was looking at it I thought the goalie saved it but it went over). From then on it was all downhill for Charlton. Some of their players were visibly shaking. It was almost sad. As if they were saying “how can they do this to us????”. A once good football team – only half an hour earlier a good football team – blundered around like amateurs. It was like seeing an old geriatric person going senile. A sad shell of their former self. Morison scored again less than five minutes later and from then on Charlton made no plays at all, no serious attempt to score, and the best they could muster was few egregious fouls that the ref let them get away with. They had lost the plot.
Seriously, it could easily have been five or six nil. By the end Millwall fans were singing “Let them score, let them score, let them score” out of pity – and “There’s only One Christian Daaaaailly” out of some other emotion. But Charlton never really had a hope.
Honestly, that isn’t an exaggeration. I have no idea what happened to them but they basically stopped trying to win. Christian Dailly – who has the own goal to his name though it probably wasn’t really his fault – looked as if he was crying and spent the last few minutes of the game (after his own foul Jonathan Obika led to a Millwall free kick that could have made it five-nil) apparently injured but not getting substituted, he sat out some of it over the side line. What I didn’t know at the some, being a clueless newbie at these things, is that Dailly was the West Ham player who scored an own goal for Millwall at the Mother’s Day Massacre exactly six years ago. So his career total of Millwall goals is larger than many of the players who actually play for Millwall. No wonder he was upset, it must be like a curse. A couple of other Charlton players seemed almost as shellshocked. They were a trainwreck.
Don’t just take my word for it – the official Charlton website says “in the closing stages Charlton capitulated tamely” and “The Valley boss said his side were simply not good enough in the second half after they surrendered meekly in the closing quarter of the game.” and “”Defensively our composure and possession in the second half went out of the window.”
Both the BBC and the Sky Sports websites report the Charlton shots on target as zero. Maybe if you put your hand into the lion’s den around Mother’s Day you should expect to get bitten.
Some-one made a nice video and put it on YouTube:
Nuts, it won’t post on the blog. Well, until I can make it work you will just have to take my word that that is that’s just what it sounds like 🙂