Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Have you ever started reading a book thinking you knew roughly what is was about? I've done just that with "Philomena".

I decided to read the book before watching the film and it started how I expected. However instead of concentrating on Philomena it concentrated on her son Anthony.

During the story of Anthony's life I learnt a few things about the USA and in particular about events during the Reagan years. Although I grew up during this period what we learnt about current affairs was given to us by the newspapers and tv news. No such thing as the internet or even 24 hour tv back then! So unless you devoured every broadsheet available some things passed you by (plus I have an appalling memory).

I have to say that, sad as the story is, Philomena was superbly written and I could barely put it down. Written to give the reader enough information without giving them the feeling they were reading a gossip magazine. The one down side were the photos. Placed in two sections in the middle of the book it meant discovering the ending well before getting there.

I would have liked to have found out more about Philomena's life after she gave up her son but the story was so compelling it didn't really matter. But it seemed that's what Philomena herself wanted - her son's story told

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Is It Still My Club?

It’s hard being a Charlton fan at the moment. We knew at the start of the season that things were going to be tough when the team wasn’t strengthened and players that could give us a fighting edge were let go. All we could hope for was that Chris Powell could work some magic and keep us in the division. The realisation then set in that several players, including those deemed most important by the fans, and the management team’s contracts were up in the summer of 2014. Would these be sorted in time?


The first half of the season was a struggle but with talk of a takeover there was hope. We knew it wouldn’t be an investor with multi-millions to throw at Charlton but someone who could at least bring stability to the club. Now we realised why players & management’s contracts were not being sorted. Why commit to something that new owners would not like/want? Christmas came and still no takeover. The transfer window opened with rumours that a takeover would soon be finalised. Would this mean there would be money to spend? More importantly  would it be completed in time to spend?


January 3rd and all was revealed. Roland Duchalet, the current owner of Standard Liege, was now the owner of Charlton. And early enough in the transfer window to make a difference - hopefully.  An interview with him had him talking about a “network” of clubs which players would be able to move around giving them experience of other leagues. Specifically young Charlton players could experience Champions League football. Hang on…..we bring these talented young players on and you will move them because Liege are in the Champions League? Where does that leave Charlton?


The players brought didn’t seem to be that inspiring. Most came from abroad and we knew it would take some time for them to settle into English Football. The only one who seemed to be reasonably up to speed was Astrit Adaravic who seemed to understand the passion of the Charlton fans and reciprocate. Then at the end of the transfer window there were not one but two hammer blows. First up Dale Stephens was sold to Brighton & Hove Albion. Dale could frustrate the life out of you at times but was clearly the midfield creator who has a wonderful habit of scoring absolute cracking goals. So much that a song was made up about it.


If the loss of Dale was bad enough then worse was to follow. Our talisman Yann Kermorgant was sold to Bournemouth. There had been rumours and a Twitter campaign was started to show the depth of the fan’s feelings. But still he was sold. Who was going to score our goals now? Yes were guilty of playing a long ball game but Yann was more than capable, with the right service, of scoring the goals that would keep Charlton up. I can honestly say that I have not felt.


In the midst of all this we had a cup run which culminated in a quarter final trip to Sheffield United. The less said about that game the better as Charlton slumped to a 2-0 loss. Again the rumour mill was rife that should Charlton lose then Chris Powell would lose his job. If this was the case then the team certainly didn’t play like a team fighting for their manager. If the other rumour (that Powell was released before the game but told to keep quiet) was true then that would explain the performance.


This decision did seem planned ahead as within a day or so Jose Riga took over as Head Coach. The fans consensus seemed to be split between those who  were prepared to give Riga a chance and those who were still pro Powell. At the time, and even now, I still find it hard not having Chris Powell in charge. Yes I will cheer on the team but I’m not convinced that the soul of the club is still there.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Robert Enke

I recently read “A Life Too Short The Tragedy of Robert Enke” which took some time to finish. Not because it’s a bad book because it isn’t but because, in places, it’s a tough read.


For someone who suffers from depression and loves football this book was fascinating. On one hand it explained the ins and outs of football transfers in Europe and gave an insight into the German national team as well as some of the top club teams in Europe including Barcelona. On the other it gave an insight into what it like not only to suffer from depression but also how the family and friends of the sufferer have to cope day in day out.


On the surface Robert Enke had it all. A wife and family, doing something he loved and representing his national team. But he suffered from anxieties over how good he was like many other people. I certainly understood his feelings of not being good enough even if others around you say you are. His daughter died at a young age – something that can break the strongest of people.


The struggle that Robert Enke went through is one that depression sufferers will identify with on a varying level. There is always the thought in your mind that one day you will be brought so low that there seems to be no way out except to end it. Luckily, for me, I have not yet experienced that but I know others who have. Having said that I could feel nothing but empathy for Robert as he felt he was brought so low. It must have been hard for him to ask for the help he so desperately needed knowing he was a public figure. At the time he was suffering the world in general was still very reluctant to understand depression as an illness. To admit to depression felt like admitting you could not cope and yet many depressives hold down jobs just as Robert did.


If you have never suffered from depression then this book will give you an insight into what can be a dark and frightening place. I would say read it even if the football side of it does not appeal.