Exclusive: Johnnie Jackson out for FA Cup redemption as Charlton plot upset against Norwich

·4-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

Try to chart the highs and lows of a tumultuous decade at Charlton and the graph you end up with is likely to have as many peaks as a bar of Toblerone and more troughs than most farmyards.

But even amongst them all, the 2014 FA Cup quarter-final loss to Sheffield United would stand out as a particularly significant apex, marking the end of the fondly-remembered Chris Powell era and the start, in earnest, of Roland Duchatelet’s bonkers spell as owner.

“It was probably one of the biggest regrets of my career, not winning that game,” current manager Johnnie Jackson, then the club’s captain under Powell, tells Standard Sport.

“It was a great occasion, a quarter-final at Bramall Lane, full house, one of the best atmospheres I played in. You could really feel the spirit of the cup.

“It was just the disappointment with how it ended really. At the time, we were a division higher and obviously the semi-final would have been at Wembley…”

Powell had led the Addicks to promotion and then a ninth-placed finish on their return to the Championship, but amid a slump in league form, Duchatelet decided the end of the cup run also meant the end of his manager’s tenure.

“We had some great results, great games in there,” says Jackson.

“Going up to Hillsborough [against Sheffield Wednesday in the fifth-round] and winning up there was a big moment.”

He laughs as he recalls Powell’s celebration at full-time when, dressed in a full suit, the former England international performed pull-ups on the crossbar in front of the away end.

“It was an iconic moment that was!” he adds. “People look back on that warmly when they think about Chris Powell's time at the club.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Duchatelet, who had taken control two months earlier, appointed fellow Belgian Jose Riga as the first of eight new permanent managers during his torrid reign, but was infamous through much of it for his overreaching style, with players bought and sold over Powell’s head and the manager pressured over team selection and playing style.

Jackson calls it a “mad” and “strange” time, before quipping that “Powelly must have some stories” - which he certainly does.

The pick of them might be one he told to a Charlton supporters’ club earlier this year. Sitting in his office one day, he was informed that a striker, Piotr Parzyszek, whom he had never heard of had, turned up at the training ground claiming to be part of the squad.

It turned out that ‘Polish Pete’, as he was dubbed, had been signed by the owner on a four-and-half-year deal, which was cancelled two years later after he had made just one substitute appearance.

“It was a tough time at the club,” Jackson adds. “And there’ve been plenty more since then as well.”

Charlton’s FA Cup record exemplifies that, the club having failed to get beyond the third-round since Powell, Jackson & Co came so close to Wembley eight years ago, but this weekend they have a real chance to buck the trend as they welcome Premier League strugglers Norwich to The Valley.

We’re up against it but it’s an opportunity for us to showcase what we’re about and have a right go.

“On paper I guess it looks like a typical opportunity for an upset,” Jackson says. “But we had the flip of that when we went up to Gateshead on a Friday night [in the second-round].

“Everything pointed towards it: on the telly, non-league team against one of the bigger teams in the cup at that time. We had to be professional.

"Norwich will be looking at it that way - and they'll be looking at it as an opportunity to win a game, because they haven't won many of late.”

A shock result would also do wonders for regaining some of the momentum built up during Jackson’s lengthy interim spell in charge and then lost almost as soon as he was handed the permanent job due to a series of Covid postponements over Christmas.

“We're up against it but it's an opportunity for us to showcase what we're about and have a right go,” he adds. “We're not going to sit back and let them have their way with us, we'll have a go at it and hopefully cause an upset.”

And should they pull it off?

“I'm not sure I'll be swinging on the crossbar. I'll leave that one to Powelly!”

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