Thursday, 30 April 2015

Charlton blogger Dr Kish offers you a seat at The Valley

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Charlton v AFCB
Blogger interview: Dr Kish

While AFCB fans were biting their nails last weekend wondering whether the team was about to fall out of the automatic promotion places and wondering whether the result against Sheffield Wednesday had scuppered the Cherries' promotion charge, I took a few moments to send over some questions to regular Charlton blogger Dr Kish who as more than happy to calm my nerves and provide some clarity on some of the decisions taken at The Valley this season.

CC: Charlton changed their manager this season. Do you feel that the owner, Roland Dutchatelet, is dabbling with the club and risks alienating supporters and what happened at the fan meeting in February with him?

DRK: Well, Watford are in a similar situation, four managers in 36 days for them this season, with an owner who has other clubs under his command. I'm sure Charlton fans would like to have emulated the Hornets. Though Duchatelet is accused of interfering by some fans, there's nothing to substantiate the claims. He is a businessman and does not get involved with the day-to-day running of the club.

Nobody from the club was present at the fans' meeting. Since then, the team has been in reasonable form and the worries harboured by some have eased.

CC: Charlton sit in 10th place ahead of the last two games so are you fairly pleased with how the season went for the Addicks on the pitch?

DRK: I'm a firm believer that the table doesn't lie. In September, we would have been hugely disappointed with tenth, in January we would have been delighted with it. The 14 game win-less streak ended any hopes we had of ending in the top six, consistency is the key to success in football and we didn't have it in the middle of the season.

CC: Do you see much change in the way the team has played since Guy Luzon has been manager and can you see him lasting any longer than Bob Peters?

DRK: Peeters, like Chris Powell, was a defence minded coach. During his time in charge, all the six wins Peeters achieved were by a single goal and only once did the team score more than twice in a game. Luzon is much more attack minded, we have scored three in a game on several occasions, have come from behind to win - something we never did under Peeters - and continue attacking even if we are leading late on in a game. Luzon's team is much easier on the eye and his future looks assured.

CC: Who has been Charlton's best player this season?

DRK: Our Icelandic midfielder, Johann Berg Gudmundsson. He is capable of scoring spectacular goals.

CC: Charlton still doesn't have a 20 goal striker and do you think that is the main reason why you have not made it higher in the league this season?

DRK: Not really. When Cardiff and Hull went up a couple of seasons back, their top scorers netted eight and nine goals respectively. Inconsistency and an overly cautious approach earlier in the season are the main factors behind us not being higher in the table .

CC: Charlton have only lost three of their last 10 home games so this is not going to be an easy game for the Cherries is it?

DRK: It will be an open game, Eddie Howe worked out that scoring more than the opposition - rather than trying to concede less - is the key to success. Two talented wingers, good strikers, pace and speed of thought have served you well. Luzon will also attack, both sides will have chances and it is down to who has the composure to take them on the day.

CC: How has Stephen Henderson been in goal and do you think he is one of the better keepers in the Championship?

DRK: Stephen missed 14 games in the middle of the season and it is no coincidence that we did not win any of them. He was also out for a short spell earlier in the season. He is a top keeper at this level and key to our chances of success next season. I have not seen any keeper in the Championship I would swap him for, but as you guys know, he is injury prone. But for that, I think he'd be playing in the Premier League.

CC: The Addicks were a bit reluctant to give AFCB more than 2900 tickets for the final game of the season but conjured up another 1400 after AFCB chairman Jeff Motsyn pleaded with Charlton Athletic to release more tickets - any reason why can think why Charlton were so slow to agree to a bigger allocation of tickets for AFCB fans for such a special game for our supporters?

DRK: A few words on the figures to start. The Jimmy Seed Stand (the stand behind the goal which will house the Bournemouth fans) has a capacity of just under 3300. Watford, Millwall and Leeds have all brought well over 3000 fans. I assume the 2900 figure you quote is because the club (Bournemouth) had to reserve more than usual for players' families etc, given the importance of the game. Also, despite both clubs announcing the release of an additional 1400 tickets, I believe the figure is actually closer to 1500. There was never any reluctance to allocate more tickets, but there were a number of issues that had to be resolved. The Met Police are strict with segregation at London grounds and this is the first time that The Valley in its current form, has housed away fans anywhere but in the Jimmy Seed Stand. For the FA Cup ties with Brentford and Leyton Orient a few years back, the end two blocks of the East Stand (the one to the right of where you guys will be sitting) were given to the away fans. This was relatively easy, there were no season ticket issues, the stand has turnstiles at both ends and the two blocks have their own toilet and catering facilities. This season, Charlton sold season tickets in the end block for £150 and sold it out. I'm not sure of the legalities involved in moving season ticket holders but there is not enough room in the East Stand to relocate them all. The Upper West, where your extra tickets are, gives a fine view of the action and is normally fairly sparsely populated in the blocks you have been allocated. However, there are a number of season ticket holders in these blocks and Charlton contacted them all individually and gave them food vouchers by way of compensation. Also, the Met are unhappy about housing away fans above home fans and I believe the local council had to be contacted regarding the safety certificate. I think (correctly) both clubs did not want to say anything until all the issues had been resolved. I think Katrien Meire (Charlton CEO) deserves credit for making the release of extra tickets possible, and also Jeff Mostyn , for paying the considerable additional costs incurred.

CC: Do you think Charlton fans would be pleased to see the trophy at the ground should Bournemouth win the league and do you think such scenes could help inspire Charlton for next season?

DRK: Bournemouth's elevation to the top flight is a modern day fairy tale that any true fan will enjoy. The lifting of the trophy would not be the inspiration, you have already given that with the season you've had. A few years back Bournemouth were in the bottom tier of English football with a 17 point deduction. Now you are on the cusp of the Premier League, you have no debt, a summer spend of just £3.5m (and I guess most of that was recouped by the sale of Lewis Grabban?) and you have the smallest capacity in the division. If that's not inspirational, I don't know what is.

CC: What do you make of Eddie Howe's talent?

DRK: One of my favourite 'if only's' is how different things might have been had Eddie come to The Valley back in 2011. Fantastic manager who gets his teams playing the right way. Eddie's a cunning so-and-so, the season we signed Simon Francis he had been in dispute with Southend and missed most of pre-season.

First game of the season, we were at home to AFCB and Francis' fitness level being below par, a young Chris Solly played at right back. Eddie isolated Brett Pitman at the far post with Solly and exposed his lack of height.

Francis was ushered into the team before he was ready and had a poor season and had the crowd on his back. Eventually Franny left to fulfil his potential with you guys. Say no more.

CC: What is your score prediction for the game?

If both teams play like they did in their weekend games, Bournemouth will win in a canter! I'm hoping Charlton will be back on form and Eddie and the boys spend the week celebrating! I think there will be a few goals in the game.

I would like to thank Peter for giving me the opportunity to answer theses questions. I am typing these final words whilst watching the celebrations after the Bolton game!

Congratulations to everyone connected with Bournemouth. Enjoy the euphoria, the party at The Valley on Saturday, the summer, the sleepless night before the fixtures are released on 17 June and then you will know for sure it's not a dream. I will miss my favourite away trip next season but hope to witness a little bit of history on a sunny afternoon in August 2016, when Bournemouth entertain Charlton in the first ever top-flight clash between the two teams.

Good luck to you all, enjoy the Premier League! You will - like us for a few years - be everyone's second favourite team.

CC: We couldn't have asked for a much better farewell from the Championship than some of the kind words spoken by Dr Kish there. I think I can speak for most AFCB fans that we have thoroughly enjoyed being in the Championship and should the Addicks do an AFCB, and score a bucket load of goals next season, I am sure we will remember the day we are about to have at the Valley, especially the 1400 who already have Katrien Meire down to receive the first congratulations when the Addicks come up to join the Cherries!

As for the trophy I don't suppose SkyBet has a helicopter and a heli-pad at Charlton and Watford - it could be a bit of a hard decision where to land at half time on Saturday. Make sure you check out Dr Kish's site which has some excellent views on matters Charlton and Championship chat.

Tomorrow we'll be releasing the Cherry Chimes' May Newsletter which picks over the top stories from the blog in April to reflect on how AFCB reached the top flight.

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