Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mustang Solly

I would hazard to guess that there were not many other folks within the District of Columbia on Friday afternoon that were punching the air and whopping in response to Chris Solly's first touch of the ball in Charlton's away tie against Leyton Orient. I am always too optimistic and rarely ever appreciate the depth of the weakness of any team I root for, but boy oh boy do I like this team. Of the three hours of League 1 football played by Charlton so far this season, over a full hour has been spent a man down. The result? Charlton 4, Bournemouth/Leyton Orient 1.

I thought Chris Solly was hard done by not being part of the starting XI at Leyton, but it is impossible to quarrel with the results. A beautiful cross from Simon Francis, the man picked ahead of Solly at fullback, converted by Alan McCormack put the Addicks up a goal before the half hour as the former shrimpers combined masterfully. Having already provided Nicky Bailey to Charlton, Southend has become the Pittsburgh Pirates to CAFC's Chicago Cubs. For Solly's part, no hung head, but, quite to the contrary, a late introduction is met with a vibrant response that put the game away and relieved all the tension the faithful felt as Charlton attempted to hold on to all three points. Top of the table is a nice place to be, even if it is only early days. Well done. Well played. Hoo-rah.

There seems to be a consensus that Charlton Life will sponsor one of Mr. Solly's shirts this season and he is fully deserving of the support. For our part, we (read: I) have decided to continue sponsoring players on other clubs, although to a far more limited extent than last season. I love the additional incentive provided by sponsorship to follow results in other leagues and I have generally been well-rewarded with great storylines. For instance, this year we are once again sponsoring the home and away kit of a player on Accrington Stanley. Stanley, as a story as well as a club, is absurdly compelling. For the last two seasons, the team has seemingly hovered at death's door and yet, irrespective of daytime television level trials and travails, they achieve great things. Last season, in defiance of all expectations, Accrington maintained its league status and had a wonderful run in the FA Cup that allowed us to watch them live on television in their fourth round home tie against Fulham.

John Coleman's been the head of the squad since 1999 and Accrington's continuing gadfly presence in the League must surely be the product of some magic on his part. Again this season, Stanley's year began with more problems following Ilyas Khan's decision to leave the Chairmanship and a transfer ban being imposed that left the team with something like four registered players. And, yet, nevertheless, straight out of the gate, Accrington managed to take the scalp of the Championship side Doncaster Rovers in the Carling Cup and their profit on it is a home tie against Newcastle United, following the Toon's return to top flight. How absurd is this story? The Crown Ground's total capacity is a little over 5,000, which the club struggles to fill on a regular basis. When NUFC has an open training at St. James Park, 6,000 show up to watch practice (PRACTICE? PRACTICE? We're talking about PRACTICE?).

On the other hand, faerie tales would not seem to be true for all the teams we have a soft spot for. We are not renewing sponsorship of a Bohs player, but not for lack of trying. Repeated efforts to once again sponsor a player from the Irish champions were ignored, making recent reports that the club is in dire financial straits following their embarrassing departure from the Champions League at the hands of The New Saints more depressing. The Independent notes that the poor financial outlook of the team which may require Bohemians to go back to part time is due to lower than expected gate receipts and commercial income -- which makes the failure to follow up on supporters' past financial support even more inexplicable.

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