So for the faithful its time for that appalling journey down to medieval South Norwood and that depressing stadium disparagingly known as sainburys, recalling as they nose-dive towards Croydon those poignant memories of those turbulent days back in the 80's when Lennie gave us four amazing years of Division One football. It was all a bit magical including the journey to the other side of the world and a bit surreal, being in a stand for all those years in whose name I never understood. Who was Arthur Wait? I never did find out and to tell the truth, I really didn't want to.
The opposition's home form so far has been distinctly scratchy with 0-0 draws against Watford and Burnley, they then beat Swansea 2-0, but last time out lost to Plymouth 1-2. They also beat lowly Hereford 2-1 in the League Cup Thing. So 5 points at home and only home 3 goals in 4 fizzy games. But we shouldn't be too carried away perhaps by their low Relegation position in the League for a difficult away fixture list tells a lot. They have suffered 3 defeats at Preston 0-2, Reading 2-4 but held Wolves for an hour before losing 1-2, Wolves narrowest home win.
So with the Addicks having scored twice away from home and conceded 3, Palarse are the complete opposite and have scored 3 times at home and conceded 2. Expect a low scoring game then with only a couple of goals in it.
So they don't score many, 7 so far, and as befits a low-scoring outfit its a midfielder, Australian international and new boy number 10 Nick Carle that is top goalscorer with an unimpressive two goals ( one from the penalty spot). Number 9 and another new recruit Alan Lee from Galway scored 12 last season for Ipswich but has still not got off the mark for the Eagles and currently makes Luke Varney look quite prolific. Our old boy Paddy McCarthy has also got one goal after getting a late consolation in the last home game against Plymouth. He didn't start that game but played the full 90 last time out against Ipswich. They also have the worst naughty boys record in the fizzies with 18 yellows and 2 reds, over twice as many as the Addicks.
But Warnock was gushing after their last game, the 1-1 draw at Ipswich, "It was as good as we've produced this season. We looked strong and played some good counter-attacking football."
As everyone knows the history of our games against these peps is pretty atrocious with 23 defeats in our 26 seasons together. With only 16 wins and 13 draws, that means we have lost a total of 44% of the games. And at sainburys, of course, its even worse with only 5 wins and 17 defeats in the 26 games. So if you thought it was only you that didn't like the place, it's clearly one place that the team would prefer to avoid as well because of all the places in the fizzies its second only to our dismal record at Preston of 5 wins in 31.
Of course, you can point out that things have improved and continue with the very good news that of those 5 wins stretching back over 83 years, 3 of them have come in the last 3 visits to this miserable venue. And, of course, we are currently unbeaten in the last 7 (SEVEN) games ( as long as you ignore the League Cup defeat at the Valley in October 2004) against these ungrateful peps so what's to worry about.
And if you need reminding - fat chance - those 3 (THREE) successive 1-0 away wins came courtesy of the following three players with the last being just over a year again on 1st Sept with Todorov coming on a sub and scoring after only 7 minutes on the pitch in the 74th minute. And we all remember Denis Rommedahl's extra-time 93rd minute winner ( his first goal for the Addicks) in Dec 2004.
Before that it was Paul Kitson with another late winner in the 82nd minute in March 2000 on our way to be the Champions. That was our first League win there ( we had won in the Cup in '69) in 65 years for our last League win before that came in 1935!
So are we going to continue the run? After a dismal performance against Wednesday, Pards is clearly going to make changes. In fact there's "three or four players who are champing at the bit to play." And if you need any hints he's already given us one; "We have a lot of strength in midfield and we might have to look to an area there to make the side stronger.
So the problem, for Pardew, is not the defence, its the midfield and with Basey being preferred as sub on Saturday and replacing Cranie - and Semedo staying on the bench - we could see another formation as seen against Forest with Basey starting in front of an unchanged back four.
Ambrose also came on against Wednesday and can Pards' comments apply to him as well? Possibly, and perhaps its time to consider putting more "seasoned players" in for a derby. Ambrose played both derby games last year, and in fact if he does start he'll probably be the only Addicks outfield player to remain from that win last September.
As for the strikers, Varney will start that's for sure but who will be alongside him? Drifting down to 14th and a win needed badly, it would have been a good game to start the experienced Todorov but he doesn't seem fit enough at the moment to be anything other than a second half sub. So it'll probably be Gray unless Pardew decides that he wants another flirtation with a 4-5-1, with a lone Varney up front.
Incidentally, as Pards searches for the key to success, perhaps he should do something about our shooting. According to the stats on football-league there's nobody in the fizzies have had less shots on target than we've had.
Team: Weaver; Cranie, Hudson, Primus, Youga; Sam, Bailey, Holland, Basey, Ambrose; Varney
And Prediction: After Saturdays show, a 1-1 draw is the most I think we can plan for - but go on Pards, surprise me.