At one stage Monsieur Salut thought that he might not find a Charlton fan to keep our Who Are You series up to date but thanks to the wonders of social media – and especially the Charlton fan site Into the Valley – the Addicks came up trumps and long term supporter Richard Justham took up the challenge and provided us with a comprehensive set of responses to our questions.
Salut! Sunderland: Glorious histories, huge gates that make our impressive Boxing Day 46,039 look small, then a long wait for the return of better days. Do you also see similarities between our clubs?
RJ: There are similarities. Both clubs do indeed have an interesting history. We have both won the FA Cup and played between the first and third tiers. Our pasts involved unique historic stadiums in Roker Park and the Valley. We of course share the greatest playoff match in history in 1998 when the Addicks won what Jose Mourinho would have called a technical victory.
There are also big differences between us. Our big gates were in the 1930s/40s/50s (apart from the two Who concerts in the 1970s). The Valley’s capacity is now only 27,000 and the capacity is unlikely to be increased anytime soon. You have a bright new 50,000 plus capacity stadium and left Roker. Personally I like the Valley better than the new builds. It still has the feel of a traditional stadium.
You are a one club city whose main rivals Newcastle are 14 miles away. We share London with numerous league teams including four massive clubs in Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham. This badly affects our opportunity to build a fan base when we are in the third tier. Your previous owner wrote off the club’s debts to give you a fresh start. I can’t see Roland doing that for us.
I was impressed that you have built a statue of an ex Charlton manager outside the Stadium of Light ….. Bob Stokoe’s only southern adventure was an unsuccessful spell with the Addicks in the mid 60s.
Everyone would know that the likes of Darren Bent and Andy Reid played for both clubs but how many of your fans would realise that Rubeun Agboola made a solitary loan appearance for us or that Vic Halom started his career at the Valley ?
I am interested in links between clubs so I like to pick imaginary teams of players who played for Charlton and our forthcoming opponents for the Blog Dr Kish. I can complete this exercise for most clubs in the top two Divisions and around half of League One .
Sourcing a goalkeeper can be a problem although not for Sunderland. There have been five mutual goalies .
For your mutual team it is the the back four and midfield which almost chose themselves. For example, the unimpressive El Hadj Ba is selected and a few players are shoehorned in to unfamiliar slots.
There are strong rumours that we are in for your former loanee Jonny Williams (he attended our Walsall game on New Year’s Day). If he signs he would add some balance to both our current side and the mutual Sunderland team.
For this exercise it is a shame that our youth players Gary Breen, Jermaine Defoe and Michael Turner or one time trialist Iain Harte and substitute keeper Jim McDonagh never played in our first team. They would have certainly improved the choices.
I would love feedback on the side. Are there any historic players I missed?
Doctor Kish: On-line Therapy For The Hopelessly Addickted
ROKER ROAR 03-Aug 16:23, by E17 Addick.
Charlton played one of the greatest ever games seen at the old Wembley Stadium against the Mackems as well as regularly playing them in the top two flights over the years .
Lee Bowyer, the controversial Belgian owner … is this the right combination to get you back up at least one division?
Not sure that Bow and Roland are the ‘right combination ‘ but Bows has certainly changed my opinion of him and the right man to manage Charlton. Lee started with Charlton as a youngster and I never saw him as a future manager. He must have learnt something having played for Alan Curbishley, Howard Wilkinson, David O’Leary, George Graham, Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness and Alex McLeish. Quite a list.
He has grown and matured. He ‘gets’ Charlton and that it is a family club. He has generally united the fanbase, despite Roland not because of him. He reminds me of a young Curbishley who similarly took his chance at a moment of adversity.
Lee is ably supported by Charlton legend Johnnie Jackson, goalkeeping coach Andy Marshall and our Head of Recruitment Steve Gallen. Gallen in particular seems to be well connected within the game and he has a good eye for a player.
Roland is on the way out. If we get a new owner (it is rumoured that an interested party was in the stands against Walsall and it could even take place when you read this). If it happens then I hope they might give Lee some money to invest during the window. He deserves an opportunity to spend having made us competitive against the odds this season. Against Walsall we needed to play a couple of youngsters Albie Morgan and Toby Stephenson who were both starting only their second league match.
My own view about Duchalet is that he is extremely naïve. Moving players between countries does not work unless there is a massive club at the top of the pyramid like Manchester City. He treated football as a business. When financial fair play didn’t happen he didn’t adapt his model. The lack of investment meant that we ended up back in League One rather than competing for the Premiership.
He lost the goodwill of a large portion of the fan base early on by sacking (Sir) Chris Powell and selling fan favourite Yann Kermorgant. There were stories that Powell was being forced to pick certain network players. There were mixed performances from some of our imports from Liege.
On the plus side we had Tal Ben Haim ( ex Sunderland loanee), Frederic Bulot, Astrit Arjdarevic and Yoni Buyens. On the negative the goalkeeper Yohann Thuram-Ullien and the recent scorer of a Europa League goal against Chelsea Loic Nego. Some of the other signings also failed to impress.
Despite his comments about promoting young players, we had quite a few ageing free agents passing through during his tenure. Some like Alou Diarra or Rod Fanni were good additions others like Roger Johnson and Oguchi Onyewu were not.
I believe that Roland’s biggest mistake was not permanently appointing Powell’s successor Jose Riga in the summer of 2014 . Riga led us to survival and despite replacing Sir Chris he became popular in his own right. Duchalet then appointed a variety of under qualified managers until eighteen months later Riga returned but too late to save us from relegation to League One.
We’re close together at the top of the League One table … who has been instrumental in making things happen for you?
Our problem is that our best eleven is a match for anyone in the Division, but we haven’t got a balanced squad or adequate cover as our five man bench on the first day of the season demonstrated. Investment in the window may change this.
The first choice back four is sound but it was a major error not to source an alternate left back in the summer. As a result we have had makeshift options there for three months since Lewis Page’s injury. Hopefully by the time Saturday comes we may have someone brought in. Ex Bury player Greg Leigh (currently with NAC in Holland) has been linked with us and experienced ex Barnsley and Leeds man Aidy White was training at Sparrow’s Lane before Christmas.
Our midfield options have been boosted by the emergence of youngsters George Lapslie and Albie Morgan. Sensibly Bowyer does not like to play too many of them at the same time.
Injuries have badly affected us. Our loanees (all signed after the SOL match) have vindicated Bowyer and Gallen’s patience in terms of quality. Jed Steer was an excellent keeper and at least Championship class. It is a shame Villa called him back on New Year’s Eve. There is no way Arsenal starlet Krystian Bielik would be here if he had not previously suffered dreadful injuries. Likewise West Ham’s Josh Cullen was impressing until dislocating his shoulder six weeks ago. Forest’s Jamie Ward looked useful in cameos. Again the problem is that he has been injured for much of his loan spell. I suspect he will have returned to the City Ground by the time we play you on Saturday .
Lyle Taylor and Karlan Grant have been a revelation up front, but we haven’t been able to rotate them enough. In particular we do not have good cover for Lyle.
Best moment you’ve had as a fan, which must include – if you’re old enough – the playoff final?
Of course the Sunderland Play Off Final is up there. As a one off match it had everything in terms of emotion and for us it was a happy ending. It was my best moment as a fan. I believe that it was one of the best games ever to have been played at the old Wembley Stadium. I worked with a couple of fanatical Mackems at the time and it was good for me to have the bragging rights over them.
In terms of drama I must also mention the first ever play off against Leeds eleven years earlier where our current Northern Scout Peter Shirtliff scored twice in extra time to preserve our top flight status and a draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge the following season, which meant we avoided the play offs. Your older fans might remember the ex Spurs legend Paul Miller. That day he played the game of his life. He scored the equaliser and held our defence together.
During my time as a fan there have also been victories away at all the top clubs but the ground with the most special memories is relatively geographically close to you – Carlisle. Remarkably I have seen us promoted there three times. In 1980/81 (Stokoe was their manager that day, 1985/86 to the top flight and in 2011/12 .
It can’t get much worse than losing away to Dagenham and Redbridge in 2011.
Who has given you most pleasure over the years in Charlton colours?
My early heroes in the 1970’s were Mike Flanagan, Derek Hales and Colin Powell.
In recent years it would have to be Johnnie Jackson. He had a knack of scoring vital goals and was an inspirational skipper. He is currently an excellent assistant manager for Bowyer.
And who should have been kept well away from the Valley?
Lots of choices here. Many Roland era imports who I mentioned earlier could qualify but I will nominate Piotr Parzyszek a Polish Under 21 striker. He was meant to be Yann Kermorgant’s replacement, but only appeared as a late sub in one match against Birmingham in February 2014.
Did your decline or ours surprise you?
I never believed that this would be a third tier fixture. I always felt that Charlton might fall from the Premier League to the Championship after Curbishley, but was surprised we fell so low so quickly.
Your fall from grace in one season amazed me. I thought Simon Grayson was a good appointment on paper after your relegation. He did well in the Championship on a budget with Preston. Ironically if you could have ignored his baggage he seems to be the ‘go to man’ in terms of promotion from League One. He has been promoted from this Division four times with Blackpool, Leeds , Huddersfield and Preston.
Any other thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city and region, Jack Ross?
I like the north east of England as a region . It is a real football hotbed.
My late father spent his engineering apprenticeship in Newcastle and was a regular at St James’s Park for a couple of seasons (sorry guys) in the early 1950’s. He really did watch Jackie Milburn from the Gallowgate End.
During my visits to Roker Park I was pleasantly surprised how nice the surrounding area is. Travelling to Roker I enjoyed playing you early season and travelling up (pre Metro) from Darlington. It is lovely scenery between Hartlepool and Sunderland. I was disappointed when in recent years I have needed to go to the SoL via Newcastle. I am so glad I made it to Roker. As a 1966 World Cup ground it should have been preserved as a sports museum. It was unique in the way modern stadiums are not.
On visits to your rivals Newcastle I found it amusing that they Play the Jarrow Song to get the crowd going. Despite the lyric “come on follow the Geordie Boys”
it was actually written by a Sunderland fan the singer songwriter Alan Price. (And of course there are plenty of Geordies, especially from the County Durham side of the Tyne who are red and white. The Jarrow branch of the SAFCSA is particularly active – Ed)
Jack Ross is a good appointment for League One. He can source players from Scotland who are well suited to the physical side of League One. In the Championship I am not so sure. It is becoming more and more like Prem 2.
If Charlton were promoted I don’t think many of our squad could be Championship regulars. I don’t watch you enough to comment about your side.
Hand on heart, where will our two clubs finish?
I think you will win the league. You have a squad not just a team and would have more pulling power than the rest of us in the January window (unless we get a money bags new owner). If you wanted to sign let’s say Tom Eaves at Gillingham to help you over the line I am sure you would have both the finances and prestige to do so. Partly for this reason I suspect you will brush away Barnsley, Luton and Portsmouth.
I feel we have dropped too many cheap points to make the top two. I think like last season we will make the play offs. After Saturday we don’t play two games a week until March so hopefully we will be able to get our injured players back in good time for a later surge. In the play offs it is Cup football so who knows. Last year against Shrewsbury our bench lacked genuine options to change the game and we fell at the first hurdle. Hopefully if we make it this season we would be stronger.
Is diving a dead issue since they’re all at it or is more action needed to stamp out cheating in its various forms?
I don’t like it. It is cheating. I think players should be suspended using video evidence if proven.
Will you be at our game? What will be the score?
Yes I will be there. I don’t like making predictions about Charlton but since you have asked me I will go for a 1-1 draw.
Finally, a few lines on who you are, what you do, your history of supporting CAFC and anything you’d like me to link to (eg Into the Valley)
I work in the Railway Industry as an employee Relations Manager .
I have completed the current 92. I have been to 85 of these with Charlton over a 40 year period. When I got to 80 I chose neutral games to complete my set. I am particularly proud that I manged to visit Morecambe and Macclesfield in one day on Good Friday in 2012. When you add the likes of Roker Park I have seen the Addicks at over 120 venues including Brescia in the Anglo Itailian Cup .
Your 1973 FA Cup win is one of the first Finals that I remember seeing. I used to go to my Nan’s every year because she had a colour TV and we only had black and white .
The first match I attended involving Sunderland was a couple of years later in 1975. You beat us 2-1 with Mel Holden coming on as a sub and scoring twice (Ed – more of this tomorrow). Later that season your ex Northern Irish International Tom Finney became a hate figure for Addicks when he ended the career of our promising young goalkeeper Graham Tutt by kicking him in the face when he tried to collect the ball. To your credit as a club you played the testimonial match for Tutt eighteen months later.
Interview: Colin Randall