Unsung and unheralded, except by fans whose numbers are often so few that they can make The Valley still seem like a gigantic stadium, Charlton Athletic are about to be unveiled before a somewhat larger audience. It may be a brief flirtation - unless, or even if, they sustain their present run of First Division form all the way to promotion - but it will certainly be one of winter's more pleasant diversions.
By eliminating Sheffield Wednesday from this year's FA Cup, they paraded the traditional mixture of desire, style and bloody-mindedness, in that order if not necessarily in equal quantities. Not the least welcome aspect of the result was the manner in which it was greeted by both managers. Alan Curbishley of Charlton did not gloat; David Pleat of Wednesday did not moan.
It may be as well for the respective fans to react similarly. Curbishley has had more than four years to come up with the present Charlton side, brimful of precocious youth that is no doubt on its way elsewhere. This point was exemplified by Kim Grant, a swift, uncomplicated forward who had a spellbinding first half and who has been on the transfer list all season, because he does not see The Valley as the summit of his dreams.
Curbishley spoke modestly afterwards of the difference between preparing for a one-off encounter with a Premiership side and launching a season's campaign. "I don't think it's a shock though," he said. "I expected us to win."
Pleat took over Wednesday in the summer and it will take a little while yet to mould the side in his image. They have had their moments this season but none of them were at The Valley, and Pleat candidly admitted as much.
Asked about the need for passion in such encounters he said: "Passion comes from within. Players are what they are." Maybe, it was possible to think of this shrewd, careful coach, managers must be prepared to try instil some passion for occasions such as this.
Grant gave Charlton the lead after the Wednesday defence was split asunder and he helped to increase it when a penalty was awarded after it was decreed Kevin Pressman had brought him down, diving at his feet. The dismissal of John Humphrey after a second, severe booking hardly mattered. Wednesday panicked for the rest of the game, Charlton might have scored more. The Valley should be full for a few weeks.
Goals: Grant (6) 1-0; Mortimer (pen 36) 2-0.
Charlton (4-4-2): Salmon; Humphrey, Rufus, Balmer, Stuart; Newton, Bowyer, Mortimer, Robinson; Leaburn, Grant (Nelson, 80). Substitutes not used: Whyte, Ammann (gk).
Sheffield Wednesday: (3-5-2): Pressman; Atherton, Walker, Stefanovic; Nolan, Degryse, Waddle, Whittingham, Sinton; Hurst, Kovacevic. Substitutes not used: Bright, Hyde, Woods (gk).
Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).
Sending-off: Charlton: Humphrey
Bookings: Charlton: Balmer. Sheffield Wednesday: Pressman, Stefanovic, Nolan.
Man of the match: Mortimer.
Attendance: 13,815.Reuse content