I take it all back. Back-to-back wins and now we have a clear objective for the season. Realistically, the best we can hope to finish in the league this season is 12th, getting above Burton, Accrington and Cheltenham (the gap from them to Bolton in seventh is eight points). In the greater scheme of things it may not matter, but there is the small issue of whether or not this season will produce a new post-war low league finish for our club.
For the record, three seasons compete for that ‘honour’. The outright worst finish is 14th in the third flight, in 1973/74, just edging out 13th spot in both 2010/11 and 2016/17. Some might argue that 2010/11 deserves to be ranked worst as we scored our lowest points total in the third flight (59, against 60 in 2016/17 and the equivalent of 65 in 1973/74), but I guess position tops everything else. The bottom line is we still have to climb the table if this season is not to set a new low, while next season it’s all about avoiding another record: our longest post-war stay in the third flight, which will happen unless we get promoted.
I’d like to say I remember the 1973/74 campaign; but scanning through the results there are flashbacks but not a lot more. I’d have to check the scrapbook. What you can say about that season is that the late Theo Foley, having been in charge for our relegation in 1971/72, failed to get us back up for the second consecutive season and was dismissed. Andy Nelson came in and perhaps added the grit and organisation we needed, because one look at the squad for 1972/73 and you’d have said it should have prospered: Horsfield, Hales, Flanagan, Powell, Peacock were all there (along with in the photo a certain David Dangerfield, who I don’t think played a game for us), but we shipped 73 league goals in that season.
good news looking forward is that our worst league finish was followed by
promotion the next season (we repeated the trick in 2010/11 under Sir Chris of
course, but with Roland at the helm 2016/17 broke that sequence). We know next
season is going to be truly tough in this division. In a miserable moment last
week I noted that, for perhaps the first time in my life, there were no ‘bigger’
teams below us in the Football League. Before there have always been some worse
underperformers. There’s every chance that the third flight next season will contain
us, Sunderland, Ipswich, Bolton, Sheff Wed, Portsmouth and Derby. Every one of
us will feel, rightly or wrongly, that we are underachieving and it has to stop
– and at least four of that list will end up disappointed.
But enough of that, we won! Consecutive clean sheets and three points! No apologies for the lack of a match report, the reason being I was there in person, a proud member of the International Addicks, and there was a lot of drinking to be done either side of the game, followed by a trip back across France on Sunday. You all know the score, the details, the fact that it wasn’t great but – unlike so often this season – it was good enough, competent, professional, with a couple of different but both decent goals.
It’s a long story as to why the International Addicks turned up for Saturday, when the official International Addicks game will be the next one, at home to Lincoln. Suffice to say all concerned deserve a slap on the back: the German Addicks (and Swedish Addicks) for making it happen, the many members who turned up (Germans, Swedes, Dutch, French, Irish etc), and the club for all the efforts to make the gathering a great success. Many of the photos can be found on the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/368185037712611
But I have to include one in particular which I took. Not often the owner of a football club, plus his partner, the club’s commercial director, the supporter liaison officer, and more turn up to a local pub on a Friday night to meet and share a Turkish takeaway with a group of supporters.