Kevin Nolan’s Valley View: Charlton Athletic 5-1 Plymouth Argyle

Kevin Nolan's Valley View

The Addicks didn’t need the owner’s gimmicks to put five past the Pilgrims last night. KEVIN NOLAN was watching at The Valley…

On an evening when everything they touched turned to gold, irresistible Charlton showed a disappointing midweek crowd that while they have the ability to infuriate, they can also put decent sides like Plymouth Argyle to the sword.

Five different players got on the scoresheet, two of them (Charlie Kirk and debutant Jes Rak-Sakyi) for the first time in club colours. There might have been many more, with ten-man Argyle let off the hook in a second half, during which Morgan Whittaker’s fine solo goal encouraged the visitors to believe that the unlikeliest of recoveries was on the cards.

Already one down due to Rak Sakyi’s two-yard tap-in after Jayden Stockley saw his powerful header saved brilliantly by Michael Cooper, the Pilgrims faced an embarrassing drubbing when centre-back James Wilson saw red for keeping out Kirk’s far-post shot with an involuntarily outflung hand.

Wilson’s inevitable punishment was made even worse when Stockley converted the stonewall penalty. A clear case of double jeopardy, of course, but, though often an ass, the law is still the law.

During first-half added time, Charlton lowered the boom on the depleted visitors with a goal which will be hard to top as their goal of the season. It was thundered home from 30 yards by the increasingly indispensable Sean Clare, who was still in recovery after being unceremoniously deposited in the front row of seats by Macaulay Gillesphey’s cheap shot.

Clare’s perfect riposte gathered pace as it hit the top left corner of Cooper’s net. Pick that out, as they used to say.
Charlton’s devastating first-half blitz was galvanised by slim loanee Rak Sakyi, who proved unplayable as he marauded down the right flank. Having sauntered through Argyle’s mesmerised defence almost at will, his reluctance to shoot spared his victims on at least two occasions.

But having followed up alertly as Stockley’s parried effort reached him at the far post, he was not about to miss the 11th-minute ricochet which broke kindly in his favour. Rak Sakyi’s debut was sensational but there was much to savour elsewhere in Ben Garner’s hungry side, who perhaps had a point to make after slumping to late defeat three days previously at Hillsborough.

Clare’s spectacular goal crowned 45 flawless minutes both up and down the right flank. Among other effervescent Addicks were Albie Morgan, who slotted in unselfishly at right back after Clare was withdrawn near the hour mark and Kirk, who demonstrated indelibly that a supremely talented footballer has been concealed by a series of diffident performances last season.

Behind Kirk, 21 year-old Charles Clayden justified Garner’s faith in him with a sound, responsible contribution but it was, not for the first time either this season or last, the often unsung George Dobson who was the catalyst behind Charlton’s outstanding display.

Hunch-shouldered, slickly-coiffured and with an insatiable appetite for work, Dobson – no veteran himself at 24 – often goes unnoticed as he gets through more than his fair share of unstinting effort in his team’s cause.

Always available to help out a struggling colleague, he regularly breaks up opponents’ play with urgent pressing and snappy challenges before setting the Addicks up to counter-attack with pace and aggression.

An old-school midfielder, George’s name must surely be the first on Garner’s teamsheet. And Dobson must quickly follow it. Blessed with a power-packed engine, he won’t thank the manager for rotating him. He still plays football like a besotted kid in a public park. You know the type – they hate half-time and final whistles.

Facing ten men, meanwhile, it was possibly to be expected – but no less blameworthy – that Charlton relaxed their pressure on the second half accelerator. Half of the session had slipped away when their complacency was disturbed by Whittaker’s unassisted response.

Breaking towards Joe Wollacott’s distant goal after being gifted possession by substitute Jack Payne, the tall forward picked his time to beat Wollacott with a crisp low drive into the surprised keeper’s bottom-right corner. Having replaced the stylish Scott Fraser midway through the second half, it was the only flaw in Payne’s sturdy performance.

The Janners’ gutsy attitude brought instant reprisal. They came under intense pressure which resulted in Kirk blasting an angled shot off the lunging Jordan Houghton to make it 4-1 before the most popular goal of the evening was scored in the 84th minute by Miles, son of Carl, Leaburn, already as big a cult figure at The Valley as his legendary dad.

Given a second bite at a fleeting chance by a fortuitous rebound, young Miles planted a superb drive into the top left corner to crown Charlton’s near-perfect evening. It even made the interval Crossbeer Challenge (geddit? it’s a play on Crossbar) almost bearable.

Yeah, no it really doesn’t, because this latest embarrassment seals Charlton’s bid to be named League One’s naffest club. Their crowd is already harangued by unnecessary but frequently repeated warnings against smoking, flare lighting or sexism in any form. We get the point. Now leave off, please.

But let’s not be churlish on such an electrifying evening. Except to point out it will mean little if Cambridge United don’t receive the same treatment next Saturday. You don’t have to be quite so brilliant, chaps. Just win. You just can’t beat winning!

Charlton: Wollacott, Clare (McGrandles 58), Lavelle, O’Connell (Inniss 77), Clayden, Dobson, Morgan, Kirk, Rak-Sakyi (Leaburn 64), Fraser (Payne 64), Stockley. Not used: McGillivray, Sessegnon, Blackett-Taylor.

Plymouth: Cooper, Gillesphey, Houghton, Wilson, Scarr, Edwards (Lonwijk 84), Hardie (Enis 46), Mumba (Galloway 46), Azaz (Jephcott 55), Whittaker, Randell (Butcher 46). Not used: Burton, Mayor.

Referee: Sam Purkiss. Att: 12,392 (1,160 visiting).


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One eagle stays, the other hidden in Victoria pub’s pizza revamp

The Victoria in 2018. It has suffered further damage since

Updated story: Developers who are turning the derelict Victoria pub on Woolwich Road into a pizza takeaway have said they will keep its famous spread eagle in place at the front of the building – but hide another eagle motif at the site of the pub.

Zaan Group, a Domino’s Pizza franchise based in Gillingham, Kent, won planning permission in 2019 to refurbish the long-closed pub as a takeaway and build a single flat at the rear of the building.

Earlier this year, a replacement proposal to build two flats at the back of the pub rather than one was approved by Greenwich Council planners.

The pub, on Woolwich Road, is thought to have closed in the 1990s and is now a burnt-out shell. But its exterior has survived, including a spread eagle motif for east London’s Truman brewery over the entrance, helping make the building a local landmark.

Developers have told Greenwich Council that this eagle will stay…

Neither proposal went to a planning meeting so developers were not questioned in public about their proposals. Under Greenwich’s rules, eight people need to get in contact with concerns, or local councillors can call a scheme in for scrutiny, but neither happened for The Victoria.

Last month, construction details were submitted to planners for their approval – featuring architectural drawings that included illuminated Domino’s signage but omitted the spread eagle.

A report elsewhere, published the same day that the details appeared on the council website, and accompanying social media posts implied that this meant the developer was removing the much-loved feature.

Plans submitted to Greenwich omit the spread eagle

But Greenwich Council has told The Charlton Champion that the developer intends to keep the eagle over the door – and has been asked to update its drawings to reassure residents.

However, a second eagle insignia, at the side of the pub, is due to be hidden beneath Domino’s signage under the developers’ plans. The building is on the council’s local heritage list, which mentions both eagle motifs.

…however, the eagle at the side is due to be hidden

A Greenwich spokesperson said: “The council is currently considering a submission of details application for the former Victoria pub in Charlton.

“The applicant has confirmed that its planning proposal seeks to retain the eagle motif at the front of the building, along with the existing fascia sign, but it does not include plans to retain the eagle motif at the side of the building.

“We have asked the applicant to provide new architect’s drawings that include these important details and to avoid any further confusion.”

Sam Bowman, of Sittingbourne-based Beau Architecture, which submitted the application to the council, told The Charlton Champion: “The existing signage and Eagle Motif is to be retained. Any existing signage is to remain in situ and preserved beneath any new signage proposed as per the attached.”

Plans indicate that construction would take 74 weeks, suggesting that work is unlikely to be finished until well into 2024 at the earliest.

Revised drawings show the spread eagle in place

While the submission of detailed plans indicate progress with the plan, they still do not guarantee the development will happen: the owner of the White Swan submitted similar details for the house it wants to build on part of its beer garden last year, but construction has not yet begun.

Close to the Victoria, a planning inspector recently approved 255 homes on land between Eastmoor Street and Westmoor Street after throwing out a rejection by Greenwich’s planning board.

Residents can see the full details of the Victoria plans and respond to the application on the Greenwich Council planning website.

Alternatively, comments can be sent to planningapps[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk citing reference 22/2493/SD.

Residents in the new Charlton Village and Riverside ward who contact the planning department may also want to contact their local councillors if they have concerns about the development.

Story updated to include comment from Beau Architecture and new drawing.


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Greenwich Council alerted after White Swan ceiling collapse

The White Swan
The White Swan has been unused since March 2020. Six Nations rugby flags are still on display

Greenwich Council is investigating after part of the ceiling appeared to have collapsed at the White Swan pub, which is owned by property developers and has been closed for more than two years.

The council says it is looking into the issue after reports that people were seen moving into the upper floor of the pub amid fears that it could be being deliberately damaged.

While the town hall says it accepts that someone may live on site for security purposes, its inspectors were due to visit on Monday to look at the situation.

A quantity of plaster has fallen from the ceiling into the bar, which has not been used since March 2020. The pub closed just before the first lockdown, after a lengthy battle to pay the rent demanded by the Isle of Man-based property developer Mendoza, which bought the freehold from Punch Taverns for £900,000 in 2015.

White Swan interior
Plaster has fallen into the area by the women’s toilet

The ground floor and basement of the pub have been on the market since August 2020albeit at £40,000/year rent. No application has been made to change the use of the upstairs floors, which were used as function rooms.

The following November planning permission was given for a house on land behind the pub, which would occupy some of the beer garden. Mendoza later told Greenwich Council that the house would be built between June and October last year, but no work has begun.

A Greenwich Council spokesperson told The Charlton Champion on Monday evening: “We received a complaint in February 2021 about the space above the pub being used for residential purposes. Following investigation at the time we established that there was a pre-existing occupied flat there but that this was lawful and helpful in deterring any unauthorised entry and occupation.

“The ground floor at that time was not occupied for residential use. The officer concluded that there was no breach of planning control and records show no enforcement cases have been opened since then.

“Planning enforcement officers were due to seek to gain access today to inspect the premises following this report.”

It is not known whether a visit took place or if council officers could gain access.

Glasshouse Asset Management, Mendoza’s property agent, and ECF, which was looking after the company’s communications, have not responded to a request for comment.


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