December 6th, 2004: Dennis in the last minute

Whatever else Dennis Rommedahl does in his Charlton career, his last-gasp winner at Selhurst Park on Sunday will have secured him a permanent place in the Addicks fans’ affections. We don’t easily forget moments like that.

Dean Kiely is another whose contribution this season has been questioned in some quarters, so it’s important to acknowledge that without his penalty save the visitors would have been in no position to secure victory.

However, there is surely no sweeter way to win a match than to score the vital goal in injury time. The Dane’s drive means that since returning to The Valley on December 5th, 1992, Charlton have now won at both Millwall and Palace on that date.

Indeed, this was the Addicks’ first-ever top flight victory over the stripy sons of Selhurst and only their second league win over their hosts on the ground since the 1930s.

Admittedly, the clubs did not meet between 1935 and 1964, and this was only their third clash at the highest level, but victories over Palace are always to be savoured.

Perhaps it wasn’t a classic performance, but the fact that Charlton deserved their success is emphasised by the superior number of shots they had, both on and off target.

Given that the Addicks have won three of their last five games, two of them away - and the defeats were to Manchester United and Chelsea - there seems little room for complaint overall as we approach the season’s halfway mark.

Even one win from the next three games, against West Brom, Fulham and Southampton, would give them a handy 24 points at the mid-point. Palace should be so lucky.

By the way, after Charlton won at the New Den on December 5th, 1995, Millwall went on to be relegated. Here’s hoping!


December 13th, 2004: Strikingly similar starts

Consistency is probably not a quality many people would use to describe Charlton at the moment.

Never mind that Saturday’s deserved win was the Addicks’ fourth consecutive 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion – three of them at The Hawthorns.

Here’s a statistic that might make you think again.

In the five seasons since Charlton returned to the Premiership, the club’s points tally after 17 matches has been 22, 22, 23, 24 and 24 points.

That’s a remarkably narrow range. It puts into perspective some of the more pessimistic noises heard at The Valley since August.

Admittedly, the team’s goal difference of minus eight is worse than in any previous Premiership season.

They also went on to collect 13 points from matches 18-22 last term. That looks a tall order this time with home games against Everton and Arsenal looming, even though Fulham, Southampton and Blackburn Rovers are their other forthcoming opponents.

However, given the problems Charlton encountered following Scott Parker’s departure in January and their previous habit of tailing off in the final quarter of the season, there is no statistical reason why the Addicks can’t go on to record their best Premiership finish yet.

Of course, football cannot always be reduced to numbers. Many of us would say that Charlton have established their current points tally without ever looking convincing.

Their failure to compete effectively in any of the four matches so far against Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United has been a big factor in shaping perceptions, as have the drubbings at Bolton Wanderers and ManchesterCity.

The fact that Dennis Rommedahl and Francis Jeffers have failed to establish themselves only serves to reinforce the impression that things have not gone to plan.

But it does make you wonder what the team might achieve if they do. 

December 20th, 2004: The Valley is our home

Many readers will wake up on Saturday to find something connected with Charlton among their Christmas presents.

In numerous cases it will be Keith Peacock’s No Substitute autobiography, which has already sold about 3,000 copies.

As Keith’s collaborator on the book, it’s been very satisfying to see the warmth of the fans’ response at his various signings sessions over the last month.

It’s possible, however, that the club will shortly be able to offer a much more substantial piece of Charlton merchandise.

Tucked away in the detail of the development plans exhibited at the ground last week were a number of private flats.

Anyone who has complained that their regularly absent partner might as well live at The Valley could soon find their words return to haunt them.

“Location, location, location!” never rang more true.

These particular ideal homes are in the south-east corner of the stadium and would be part of a structure built above the concourse at the Bartram Gate.

Some bad news for potential occupiers is that the flats don’t seem to offer a view of the pitch, but at least this means the club wouldn’t be round to ask you for £45 every time the team hosts Arsenal or Chelsea.

The flats would balance the loss of two semi-detached houses in Harvey Gardens and a property that the club owns in Lansdowne Mews. More important, they would help pay for the stadium development.

The club has previously sold off parts of The Valley for housing, most recently in Valley Grove. That was for more short-term financial reasons and, as it turned out, the board could subsequently have earned more by using the land for matchday parking.

This is an altogether more sensible project and needn’t concern fans at all – unless they have a particularly large Christmas stocking.  


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