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Charlton 2012 Review: June / July / August (warning, pic of hot woman included)

Rule Brittainia !

The summer of 2012 saw Britain, and London in particular, bask in pomp and celebration as the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics came to town.

The result was a pride-fuelling rip-roaring success, though the 1.000 boat pageant that filled the Thames for the Jubilee resembled more the bathtub of the world’s most spoilt four-year old rather than Britain in all its glory.

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Not just ironically putting a dampener on it all, was the rain. Torrential downpours caused widespread flooding throughout England and Wales and brought the rail networks (what doesn’t?) and the Olympic torch relay to a standstill. Aiding the near-permanent dampness were the incredible sales of a phenomenon by the name of Fifty Shades of Grey.

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In the City, the manipulation of libor interest rates resulted in the resignation of Barclays Chief Executive, Bob Diamond. Financial concerns were not just restricted to the City, and like the Queen’s pageant, were floating south down the Thames. In contrast to the massive highs that were seen just weeks earlier, rumours were beginning to emerge that all was not well at The Valley.

Following promotion and the most successful season in a number of years, the expected squad strengthening was failing to materialise and was accompanied by suggestions of cash-flow problems, and a series of behind the scenes fall-outs. The later was further fuelled by a board of six shrivelling to three quicker than a hard-on at a Susan Boyle convention, with Peter Varney, Alex Newell and Chief Executive Steve Kavanagh all leaving under a cloud and with minimal announcement. More concerning though, was the rumour that the key financing investor had withdrawn his support and was no longer inputting cash into the business.

Despite the lack of new arrivals, pre-season went superbly well. Eight pre-season friendlies resulted in seven wins and just one defeat at Gillingham, with the highlights being a behind closed doors victory at Fulham, and a win on the team-bonding Lepe tour against Sporting Lisbon, which thanks to the powers of t’internet, saw thousands of us watching it live via Portuguese TV.

By the time of the return of competitive action, Lawrie Wilson, Salim Kerkar and Jordan Cook were the only additions to the promoted squad. Though Wilson in particular would go on to prove a respected signing, the overall business was far less of both volume and quality that many supporters had hoped for, and dampened any real expectations of the club following Norwich and Southampton in flying through the divisions.

The season started in bizarre fashion, with the League Cup tie with Orient arriving before the season opener. The result was as predictable as they come, with Charlton going out on penalties to a lower league side. It strangely left us in the position where before the season had started, there would be no cup action now until 2013.

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Onto Birmingham, and 1,600+ Addicks made their way up the M1 to see the return of Championship football. In a game that the Addicks dominated, it was so nearly the perfect start as Leon Cort’s header looked set to return three points until an injury time equaliser aided by the presence of Birmingham’s freakily tall substitute. One point felt like a defeat, but this was quickly forgotten as much-fancied Leicester arrived at The Valley.

It resulted in one of those terrific midweek games under the lights at The Valley. In what so far has arguably been the performance of the season, a high quality game ebbed and flowed at a terrific tempo. The Reds ran out 2-1 winners thanks to first half goals from BWP and Kermorgant, with City putting on tremendous pressure in the second half. Powell said after the game “This is a learning process for us. We’ve played two fantastic, highly-fancied teams in this league, and managed to get four points. That’s fantastic for the boys’ confidence and fantastic for our club”.

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Bringing August to a close, the unbeaten start to the season was extended as a 0-0 draw was played out with Hull City as rain lashed down onto The Valley turf. Charlton once again showed their ability to compete with more-fancied opposition, but for the second game in a row, Ben Hamer came away with the plaudits with a terrific double-stop as the final whistle approached.

By the time the transfer window had closed in August, Dorien Dervite, David Button and Ricardo Fuller were brought in to bolster the squad further, but more significantly, none of our players were sold to raise funds, as many feared would happen. Dale Stephens was subject to a late bid from Aston Villa, but it was turned down and Villa did not return with a higher offer.

Charlton had posted an encouraging start to the season, though it was not clear whether this was carry-over momentum from the previous season, or whether we were genuinely strong enough to sustain it through the rest of the season. On the outside, no real signs of financial difficulties were apparent, but equally it was clear that there was not going to be a serious challenge at promotion at the first attempt.

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Whether through the tremendous of the athletes, or the incredible hotness of the Paraguayan javelin thrower, the Olympics provided a terrific sporting occasion and the feelgood factor was abundant. Just as pleasing for Addicks fans, Charlton had settled well back in the Championship.

Would it continue ?

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