Kick off approaches
It comes to something when we are hardly mentioned in promotion talk, and most ‘experts’ have us down as mid table. Nothing more, nothing less like it or not but this is where we are as we begin our fourth season in five in the 3rd Division.
Optimism is very muted among Addicks, more than I can ever remember it being so, despite the club having many tougher years and discouraging summers.
The graveyard of ex-Premier League clubs in this unforgiving division has been extended this season as we are rejoined by Bolton Wanderers and Barnsley and we welcome Derby who are in the third tier for the first time since 1986.
One of L1’s few redeeming features was that it’s been pretty class-less in that any side with a good coach and consistent performances can thrive and have a say at the upper end of the table. Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe, Doncaster, Fleetwood, Lincoln, MK Dons and even us have made the play-off’s in the past five seasons.
Last year was different though as a large divide separated the top and bottom halves, and maybe this league has finally followed it’s loftier siblings into haves and have nots. I hope not.
This summer I haven’t spent any real time studying other clubs, and their summer dealings and with the transfer window having a full month to run after the season starts I personally think it is hard to judge club’s long term chances accurately although the bookies have stuck their calculated necks out.
Without exception they all pick Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich for automatic promotion and the challenger list includes Peterborough, MK Dons, Barnsley, Bolton, Derby and Wycombe.
Charlton aren’t considered worthy of a mention and I’m okay with that. If Ben Garner can build momentum, an identity and a team spirit and then I’m all in, as I’m sure every other Addick will be.
One other factor this season in L1 is the distances we will need to travel. The map (photo) has a distinct northern feel to it, with a healthy sprinkling of eastern and western England clubs. Only Pompey are in the south-east and at 40 miles away Wycombe is our nearest thing to a local derby.
So here we are, a couple of days away and plenty of miles to travel and games to see following Charlton our favourite team. COYR.