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NEW ARTICLE: Wembley Wonder and the Wasted Opportunity



It’s hard to believe that Wembley was only nine weeks ago, yet I still question myself ‘did it really happen, in the way it did?’ 

Was it a dream?, Was it an illusion?

A last minute winner for promotion, at Wembley. In front of 40,000 fans? 

Those type of events in football just don’t happen to betrodden Charlton Athletic. Well, you can have one in a lifetime and we got it in 1998. But twice? No, not us chief. 

We are the club that helps bring to end winless runs, the fall guy for a cup upset or a timid walkover in a local derby. The club that come within hours of being acquired by the Crown Prince of Dubai before falling through. The club that finally attracted a billionaire who turned out to be a absolute fruitcake. 

Wembley though was not just a freak, one-off shock event. It was the culmination of a growing unity, confidence and momentum that had been steadily building over the past nine months. Lee Bowyer was proving to be a very popular manager with an ingrained understanding of this club and how to align the playing side with supporters. By hook or crook, brilliant judgement or sheer luck, he (ably assisted by Steve Gallen) had cobbled together a squad that increasingly showed signs of the talent, attitude, balance and bond required to suggest it had the tools to move forward. Even the sale of the club’s top scorer halfway through never really disrupted it too much. 

Alongside it, the fans were increasingly proving the 12th man. Numbers were once again down at The Valley but those there supporting the team were increasingly doing so with the volume turned up. A sparsely populated Valley can still dig out a decent atmosphere you know, and on the road numbers and volume were suitably cranking up. People were buying into Bowyer and this team. There was a unity building that had not been there for a number of years. Charlton was starting to feel good again to those actively following them.

With that unity we went into the play-offs not timidly like we had 12 months earlier, but with a confidence, even a hint of arrogance, that this lot have a chance to deliver. Doncaster carried no fear for us and those games, both home and away, proved ‘un-Charltonlike’ in attracting huge numbers and an atmosphere far reaching from the norm. The night at The Valley in particular had a bustle, verve, edge to it that many people didn’t even remember from the Premiership years. The celebrations at the end were unprecedented. 

Those months on the up, that Valley sell-out and that dramatic penalty shoot-out created a buzz about Charlton again that saw 40,000 back the club at Wembley. South East London before and long after that day was awash with our red and white, with London Bridge constantly reverberating to Allez, Allez, Allez for about 5 hours through the evening. 

We’d had a dark spell, we’d survived it. This was the start of the rebirth. After two years of waiting, there was confidence that now at a higher level, and with an alleged willingness of the owner to sell, one of the multiple interested consortiums would see the job through and lead the club into a new era. 

Just like Chris Powell’s L1 Champions in 11/12, the core of the ingredients were there. It just needed some cute additions to help thrive at the higher level. Added to wisely, there would have been a chance of carrying that squad momentum into thriving in the Championship next season. 

Instead, what has happened since that joyful day in May has been bordering on disastrous. The saga in securing Bowyer to a new contract reached nationwide ridicule before finally at the 11th hour coming to a resolution. Budget allocation has also been reportably laughable (to agents and those in the game) as Duchatelet continues his march to break-even by shrinking costs where possible. 

 A reliable centre half, proven at Championship level and happy with the club, could not be secured to re-sign, choosing a fellow Championship lesser-light instead. Our star midfielder, who looks like he has real potential to reach the top, equally could not be re-signed, choosing Scottish football instead of staying. Both players I’m convinced could have been secured had a sale been concluded, or the owner had attached a respectful and realistic budget to the club. With the loss of those two and the key midfield loan players of Bielik and Cullen from last season, we don’t now have a core that needs positively tweaking, we’ve completely lost that core. We have to start the process all over again, against a higher benchmark, and build it on buttons. It’s completely and utterly demoralising.  

Some people said Duchatelet never wanted Charlton to get promoted, that to fund it realistically would mean the club become more of a drain for him. His response to that is to simply not fund it realistically. I’ll pay the bills and you do the best to get by with what you have. Good luck. 

All that jubilation from a high-profile event with a Hollywood ending, all that opportunity to positively market the club back to an engaged and joyful customer base and rebuild support numbers, that’s now gone. All that team confidence and player understanding established over the previous months, that’s now gone. 

Wasted. Completely wasted. What a wasted opportunity. 

Those of us continuing to actively follow the team will no doubt do what we did last season in getting behind them home and away, trying to be that extra man. We’ll hope that once again Bowyer and Gallen defy the odds and the backdrop they have to work with and pull a rabbit out the hat again. It could happen. Indeed it could all change again in the next few days with impressive new arrivals. But I’m not sure how much confidence people currently have of that occurring, and as it stands only the supremely optimistic can see anything other than a season of struggle at the higher level. 

Even if this does go on to be a more positive season than the one most are anticipating, those opportunities from last season and Wembley are now lost. 

This club will never ever properly move forward or maximise opportunities while Duchatelet remains its owner.

And that doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon.

Comments

  • Off_it said:
    It's all so so depressing.

    40,000 at Wembley. Lapsed fans returning. A great opportunity to try to coax people back.

    And what have they done? Absolutely fuck all. 

    It's tragic. Truly it is.


    This, just this :( 
  • I really liked reading this post it made me remember but also think a lot. Surely we still remain an attractive club to buy/invest. LCFC completed the dream so why cant we. ..with some investment. That is my hope that we we eventually get a decent ownner that wants to INVEST.

    The away following last season looked really good and i was jealous but due to personal and finance reasons i cant do it at present. Just want to say well done to those that travelled. 
  • Just staying up this season will be an achievement. 
    We have lost half of our team from last season and Bowyer is expected to replace them with a league one budget. 
    Roland you clearly are hanging around like a bad smell.
    Please just sell the club and go away.
  • Fabulous article.

    Unless something dramatic happens in the next eight days we’ll be relegated this season no question.
  • Just watched the end of the play off final again. Brought tears to my eyes. Only two months ago and feels like a different world. 
  • Totally convinced the Helmet wants relegation as he has stated it's cheaper to run the club in Div 1. He will keep the club going but I would be surprised if sufficient funds will be made available to LB to keep us up. I guess we just have to 'enjoy' our one season in the Championship.
  • It's not a surprise though is it?  I mean before we got promoted Bowyer said in an interview that whether we get promoted or not, we would be looking down the divisions to find players.  Ultimately however, league position has become less important than who our owner is.  Whilst Bowyer managed to get promotion in spite of Duchatelet, only getting rid of him can give us a chance to have a normal season where we at least have some hope.
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  • Naturally, we tend to base all our thoughts on the situation right now.

    That could, of course, stay the same for a while- but it's well possible that it could suddenly change.
    It's said, "the only certainty in life is change".

    We just don't know what's round the corner.


  • Off_it said:
    It's all so so depressing.

    40,000 at Wembley. Lapsed fans returning. A great opportunity to try to coax people back.

    And what have they done? Absolutely fuck all. 

    It's tragic. Truly it is.


    He who shall not be named hasn't done nothin tho has he?  It's much worse than that.  His inane football experiment was always built on sand, pipedreams and baseless assumption.  The deceitful old loser has continued to chip away at his own feeble foundations.  Bauer, Aribo, both pushed out by the treatment meted out by him.  By his own admission his interest in any football is nil, he cares not one jot about any of it and deigns to devote 2% of his time to losing millions every year.  His constant erosion of all that supports CAFC will eventually bring about a critical failure. Bad enough, but given that he knows and cares naff all about any of it, he won't recognise it when it happens, he won't care enough to address it, let alone prevent it.  He'll be looking the other way trying to fiddle some other property speculation when the effluent gets in the ventilation, when the ground shifts under his house of cards.  There will be no consolation at all that he will then finally be £70 - 80million in the toilet on his London football experiment because he will have clumsily, negligently, crushed CAFC under his knackered taped up tramp shoe in the process.
    With him in situ, it is when NOT if.
  • Just staying up this season will be a certifiable miracle
    We have lost half of our team from last season and Bowyer is expected to replace some of them with a meagre league one budget. 
    Roland you clearly are hanging around like a bad smell.
    Please just sell the club and go away.
    tuned that up a bit for you
  • NugNug
    edited August 1
    I still think Bowyer has enough about to him outsmart 3-4 other teams and managers with this squad. However the fact we are once again going into a season fundamentally weaker than we should be is typical of this idiot owner. I thought it was criminal that Powell wasn’t supported to add to a basically decent squad but other factors contributed to that, we were already flirting with relegation and they were new owners. But this breaking up and weakening of a squad that was firing last season is scandalous really. But I do think we have a decent chance of staying up and although I decided not to get my 3 season tickets for the 3rd season I will come and support the team. It really is us against him.
  • Doom and gloom merchants. IF we do stay up which I feel we will scrape with a game or two to go, that Wembley day back in May can and will prove to a be a foundation setter.
    So you’re Mr Positivity and even then it’s only an “if” with capitals that we might stay up!
  • se9addick said:
    Doom and gloom merchants. IF we do stay up which I feel we will scrape with a game or two to go, that Wembley day back in May can and will prove to a be a foundation setter.
    So you’re Mr Positivity and even then it’s only an “if” with capitals that we might stay up!
    So he's a Mr Positivity and not Mr Doom-and-Gloom-I've-already-given-up.

    We had the same scenario last season, with many tipping us for relegation from League One, assuming the worst before a game had even been played and the squad fully completed.

    Thank the Lord, Bowyer is also a Mr Positivity.
    Whether his words are brave or foolhardy, I'd trust him to have a better insight on this season than many who say we've no chance.

    And he calls himself "a realist".  :smile:





  • The promised land:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz-0874abY8&app=desktop


    Starring Sir Henry Irving and a cast of familiar Charlton faithful.

    Well worth watching.


  • The success of last season will be squandered this season and if we don't go down, we almost certainly will in due course. The simple fact is the clubs with the smallest budgets struggle every year in this division and we have the smallest. Our squad is small and Bowyer is going to struggle to get the missing quality with what money he has left. If we are relegated this season, we will return in a parlous state. All down to the lack of ambition, disinterest and arrogant mismanagement by Roland Duchatelet. All of our challenges are driven by his determination to cut his losses and avoid the massive losses which would damage his reputation in Belgium and quantify his appalling ownership. God help us if he's still here when we return to the third tier of English football.
  • ...... the lack of ambition, disinterest and arrogant mismanagement by Roland Duchatelet. 
     Roland Delusional.



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  • Oggy Red said:

    The promised land:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz-0874abY8&app=desktop


    Starring Sir Henry Irving and a cast of familiar Charlton faithful.

    Well worth watching.


    Nicely made film. 
  • edited August 2
    A stirring piece, AFKA, with important points forcefully expressed.

    Strange as it may seem, Duchatelet's tenure has had one big beneficial effect.  He has provoked us to develop and refine our skills at protesting, not exercised since the campaign to return to The Valley.  Many of the protests and demonstrations have been brilliantly inventive, and have gained wide exposure across the range of media.

    There were moving and dramatic moments as we joined forces with disaffected Coventry fans to march to The Valley.  Our interruptions to the games - bombardment by tennis balls, stress balls, bags of crisps, flying pigs - always made the news.  Who could forget the look of shock on Duchatelet's face when a vast banner was unfurled at the restaurant where he was dining en famille?  And most theatrical of all, the LIAR banner pointing down towards Meire, and the whole stadium imploring: "Left a bit, left a bit..."

    Bowyer, too, has thrived in adversity.  Some folk wonder if he despairs at our inadequate squad, or even considers resigning.  I think he is loving it.  He said yesterday that Bielik's value of around £10m reflects glowingly on the coaching and development he received last season with us.  Bowyer also said he is itching to start the new season and pitch his wits against bigger names, more experienced managers, more accomplished players.  This is his chance to make an indelible mark.

    I would not swap our unique and dramatic experiences with this troubled club, for supporting a secure and mediocre team where nothing ever happens.  Bowyer has exactly the right character to have a bloody good go at the Championship; the battles will be fascinating.  I'm looking forward to this season enormously.     


  • " I live somewhere where everyone eats artisan bread and hates each other" love it!
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Roland Out!