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Hamer: maturing but still flamboyant

It was a game that was a victim of the weather conditions on Saturday, as Charlton and Huddersfield played out a 1-1 draw in front of over 20,000 fans. The media were warning of torrential rain over the weekend, and although the downpour didn’t pose any immediate danger of flooding, it made for a grey, cold and soggy afternoon at the Valley. It was perhaps also the factor behind the two key incidents from the game.
The main talking point in the first half came as Southern was sent off for Huddersfield towards the end of the first half. A seemingly innocuous 50/50 challenge with Michael Morrison, the referee deemed that Southern’s challenge was dangerous (perhaps due to the conditions), and he was dismissed for an early bath.

Even Charlton fans were feeling ambiguous about the decision, but as the half time whistle blew most were more concerned with getting out of the wet and windy conditions. Charlton had the better possession in the first half, but Huddersfield had remained resolute, and the Addicks were frustrated to head to the dressing room at 0-0.

In the second half, Huddersfield sat back and defended admirably. Charlton came close through Hulse and Fuller, but it looked like being a frustrating day at the Valley. Finally however, the resistance was broken, Hulse sweeping in from Bradley Pritchard’s cross. Charlton were on the way to four wins in a row.
Emmanuel Frimpong had impressed in his debut for the South-East London side, but pulled up with cramp shortly after the goal. Nevertheless, Charlton continued to pose an attacking threat, Fuller stabbing wide with the goal at his mercy. This was the chance that on reflection proved crucial.
Yann Kermorgant made his long awaited return from injury to loud applause from the Valley faithful, immediately throwing himself into the action; winning headers and showing the kind of spirit that has earned him cult status amongst the fans. It was at the other end where the action continued however, and after Hamer failed to claim a cross in the pouring rain, Solly’s attempted clearance connected with an opposing player rather than the ball. Penalty. Clayton buried it, and although Hulse had a chance to snatch the three points minutes from the end, Huddersfield held on to earn a hard-fought point.
Hamer’s error (if we can call it one) was one of few things he had to do in the second half. His frustration was clear to everyone in the ground, but it was the missed opportunities at the other end that cost Charlton all three points.

Hamer arrived in August 2011 as part of Powell’s significant recruitment drive. Previously a Reading player, he had spent time at Crawley, Brentford and Exeter on loan before joining Charlton on a three-year deal.

It’s fair to say that he is another, like Kermorgant, that has worked his way into the hearts of the fans. His flamboyant attitude combined with his extravagant goalkeeping style has made him a real character around the club. Every game will start with him fist-bumping and hugging every individual player (often delaying kick-off), and no-one will forget his last minute header against the bar with Charlton 1-0 down to rivals Crystal Palace.
His ability however, has come under scrutiny from some sections of the ground. Certainly in League One, when he was called upon less frequently in games, he seemed to divide opinion. He would go from the sublime to the ridiculous, making world-class saves followed by irrational decisions (the sending off against Leyton Orient on 31st of December springs to mind). Reminiscent of Gomes at Tottenham, he seemed to lack the reliability craved by any defensive set-up, particularly the centre-backs ahead of him.

This year has seen Hamer mature into a more solid ‘keeper. Only 24 years of age, it’s fair to say that he is still developing his discipline, and his work with coach Ben Roberts has seen him restrain his style. Whilst he still maintains a loveable personality, which radiates into the stands, his more professional attitude has seen his performance improve as Charlton have made the step up to the Championship.

Irrespective of the weather on Saturday, Hamer will be irritated with the error. However, such is the supportive nature of the staff and fans alike, that no one will blame him. Hamer will still make mistakes, and as the last line of defence these will always be accentuated. However, his loveable attitude and excitable personality is uncommon in the modern game, and it’s refreshing to see Charlton keeping faith and nurturing him into an excellent ‘keeper.
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