Sunday 18 December 2011

The Magnificent Nine

Albion 0, Burnley 1: Amex Stadium
Saturday 17th December

Did Barnes go over the top?

Well blimey, that was an eventful match yesterday. I don’t think I’ve heard quite so much noise from the Albion fans since the opening match at the Amex against Doncaster, the fans were simply brilliant.

After a recent resurgence in form with three wins out of the last four Albion were back up to the fringes of the play off zone and looking to push on. Brighton got off to a bright start against Burnley and seemed intent on winning a game that on paper looked like it might be a pretty even match. However, an even match is exactly what it wasn't going to be. After six minutes the referee Craig Pawson stopped play whilst he consulted with the fourth official, he then marched with purpose across the pitch and inexplicably showed a straight red card to Albion midfielder Romain Vincelot. The Albion players and fans were incensed as no one seemed to have a clue as to why a red card was shown. This early on in a game most refs would have perhaps given a verbal warning or shown a  yellow card, but oh no, not this ref. Albion down to ten men but worse was to come.

If the Albion players and fans were angry then four minutes later they were positively raging with fury as the ref again showed yet another red card, this time to Ashely Barnes for what was, to be honest, a fairly rash challenge. Having seen the tackle for a second time on TV I have to say that it did look a little ‘over the top’, however the Burnley player was all over Barnes and grabbing him viciously around the throat, most referees would have seen that as retaliation and booked him as well. But oh no, not this ref. Mr Pawson certainly seemed to lose control of the match from the moment he spoke with the fourth official in the sixth minute when he sent Vincelot off and his refereeing just went from bad to worse. A clear foul on Albion winger Craig Noone in the penalty area went unpunished, a slap around the face to Albion's Adam El Abd was also ignored and just to rub salt into the wound Albion full back Tarrico was booked for justifiably complaining to the ref. So Albion down to nine men after ten minutes, let battle commence.

Burnley finally made their numeric advantage count when Kieran Trippier scored a cracking goal from 20 yards out. However, the Albion fans were now really starting to make themselves heard and were quickly becoming the team's tenth and eleventh man. When the teams appeared for the start of the second half the Seagulls fans were just brilliant, especially when singing ‘The Great Escape’ for most of the half. It was now a very exciting match and even though Albion played most of the match with nine men their defence was outstanding, in particular the returning Adam El Abd who epitomised the strength and mentality of the whole team.

As much as Burnley tried they just couldn't find a way through and I thought that they looked pretty weak up front, if Brighton had a full compliment of players I'm convinced they would have dominated play and easily beaten a poor Burnley side. Brighton had a late goal disallowed (no surprise there I suppose) and in fact Albion very nearly sneaked a winner right at the death when Craig Mackail-Smith was through on goal and only a goal line clearance prevented a well deserved equaliser. The final whistle eventually blew and the fans chanted that it was 1-0 to the referee, and they weren't wrong.

There is no doubt that this ref spoiled the game with his one sided refereeing decisions and he seemed to have it in for Albion after the sixth minute sending off. The one good thing to come out of the game was the magnificent support from the Albion fans, it was truly remarkable. It must have lifted the players who gave absolutely everything and they came so close to getting something from this match. The debate can go on about the rights and wrongs of the early sendings off but the the referee must surely be even handed, this ref was not. Albion should have had a penalty at the very least and it could be argued that Burnley should also have had a player sent off. It wasn't to be and we move on.

The match was lost in the tenth minute went Barnes went off but Albion sure did give a good account of themselves after that, if they show that spirit and togetherness for the rest of the season then they will be fine. A full match report can be found on the official Seagulls website here.

A final word here for Gully's Girls who looked just great in their Santa outfits for their pre-match dance routine. At least the ref didn't send them off as well!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Seagulls Fall To Saints

Southampton 3, Albion 0
npower Championship, St Mary's, Saturday 19th November

Over 3,200 Seagulls fans made the relatively short trip along the A27 and M27 to Southampton to see if Albion could put a stop to table topping Saints impressive unbeaten home run. Manager Gus Poyet knew he had a tough task on his hands, especially as he had some of his first team squad out with injuries. His controversial interview the previous day on Talk Sport when he got himself involved in the current debate on racism in football probably didn't help make for a smooth start to the day and became something of a distraction as the press gathered in numbers around the dug out just prior to kick off.

Poyet decided to dispense with Inigo Calderon at full back and opted instead for his 38 year old assistant, the hugely experienced Mauricio Taricco. The first half was fairly even and relatively uneventful as Albion contained Saints and 0-0 at half time was probably a fair scoreline.

Saints started the second half far more brightly and pushed forward with conviction in the early stages. It was prolific striker Rikki Lambert who rose high above Noone and Taricco at the far post to head in an unstoppable header to give Saints the lead in the 49th minute.

However the game took a dramatic turn in the 58th minute as Saints were awarded a penalty when Lewis Dunk tangled with Jose Fonte on the edge of the area. Albion's players were incensed at the decision complaining that the offence was clearly committed outside the area, as TV coverage would later prove. The assistant running the line did not show that it was a penalty when he flagged, he just indicated a foul. After a lengthy discussion with his linesman (sorry, assistant referee) the referee pointed to the spot. Taricco, who really should have known better, showed clearly his outrage in a fairly blunt and direct manner to referee Peter Walton, who then showed the full back a straight red card for dissent. Taricco getting sent off was the last thing Albion needed. Lambert stepped up to despatch the penalty to make it 2-0 to the home side and the game was effectively over.

Some ten minutes later yet another debatable penalty decision was awarded to the home side. Lambert stepped up to score his hat trick giving Saints an unassailable three goal lead. The match moved towards it's predictable close as Saints ran out winners in a match where I can't remember Albion having more than one shot on target during the entire 90 minutes. The match was always going to be a tough one to win but going down to ten men made it an impossible task, no matter how much Albion tried they were never going to get anything out of this game. A full match report can be read here on the official Seagulls website.

So I and 3,236 fellow Seagull fans made our way home down the motorway back to Sussex. We were disappointed but perhaps not too surprised at the result given the strength of Southampton and the circumstances surrounding the penalty decisions and the subsequent sending off. I find it strange that someone with Taricco's vast experience should get himself sent off due to poor self discipline, hardly the example that the assistant manager should be setting to his players. Okay, the referee clearly made the wrong decision but Taricco getting himself sent off only made a bad situation even worse. I'm sorry to say that in my view he let himself and his team mates down, his behaviour in the heat of the moment was disappointing. No matter how bad or wrong the referee's decision is, players should try to keep their discipline and not give any referee an excuse to send them off.

Albion now need to bouce back this weekend when struggling Coventry City visit the Amex. Sadly manager Gus Poyet now has one less player that he can call upon as he tries to rally the troops.

Mauricio Taricco and Gus Poyet

NWSS Meeting

Head of NWSS Andy Stonestreet (left) & Albion coach Charlie Oatway

Thursday 17th November, 2011
Hare & Hounds, Cowfold

A well attended meeting was held by North West Sussex Seagulls at the Hare & Hounds in Cowfold last Thursday night. Fans got the opportunity to meet an Albion hero and exchange views whilst having a pint and some tasty pub grub.  The highlight of the evening was a question & answer session with Brighton & Hove Albion’s 1st team coach Charlie Oatway. The football club were also well represented by Richard Hebberd (Head of Operations), Paul Camillin (Press Officer) and Steve Gibbon (Player Liaison).

Andy Stonestreet from NWSS reported that there are now 150 members who have joined since the formation of the club in the summer, 48 of whom are coach season ticket holders. The primary aim of NWSS is to get Albion supporters to and from the new Amex Stadium by coach from the Horsham, Southwater, Cowfold and Henfield areas. Demand for seats is now at such a high level that a second coach is being considered to possibly run from the Billingshurst area and NWSS have also started running coaches to some Albion away matches.

When Charlie Oatway took to the floor to answer questions from fans it was a real delight. This Shepherds Bush lad has an openness and honesty that was so very refreshing to hear. He was also very funny. He gave lots of little anecdotes that had his audience roaring with laughter on occasions. He’s a real hero to Albion fans, a former player whose work rate and commitment to the cause could never be questioned. Hard as nails and tough as old boots, you crossed Charlie at your peril on the field of play. You never received less than 100% from him on the pitch and it was no different at the meeting. He didn’t duck a single question, be it about racism in football, poppies, the development squad, player injuries, North Stand Chat, the 5 sub rule or the prevalence of Twitter amongst footballers. He said that Gus Poyet was, without doubt, the best manager he had ever worked under. A very clever tactician and good motivator was his verdict. He was also very complimentary about club chairman Tony Bloom whom he said was always approachable and a genuine die hard Albion fan with a deep knowledge of the game and many of the players within it. He reassured the fans that their club is safe in the hands of Bloom and Poyet and with the arrival of the new stadium along with 18,000 season ticket holders the future looks bright.

NWSS are a non profit making organisation and any funds left over at the end of the season will be ploughed back into charitable causes such as the ‘Albion in the Community’ scheme (AITC). Charlie Oatway was very vocal in his support of such local charity schemes which are close to his heart and applauded the contribution that NWSS will be making. He spoke a little about his book ‘Tackling Life’ and was somewhat sombre for a brief period as he spoke about how difficult a personal journey it had been for him.  There were also many logistical and operational questions from the fans that Richard Hebberd answered. Transport seemed to be the topic of the night. Apparently the expectation from the club had been that around 18% of fans would use the railway network to get to the Amex but in fact it is nearer 46%. There are 47 park & ride buses and around 55 coaches in use on match days. This is highly commendable as the club aim to be as green as possible in their transport arrangements and encourage fans to use public transport wherever possible. Richard said that the club had received great support from Network Rail and all the local bus companies. He informed fans that a planning application was being made in December to bring the Amex seating capacity up to around 30,000 and hopefully most of this additional capacity will be in place within the next 18 months.

After a few photo opportunities and the inevitable raffle the evening drew to a close with discussion about a Christmas get together. Everyone agreed that the evening had been a huge success and thanked their guests from the Albion for taking the time to attend and answer all the questions thrown at them.  If you are an Albion fan and would be interested in joining NWSS then go to for more information. NWSS can get you to & from the Amex from as little as £4.00 per game.

Andy gets himself a bite to eat after the meeting
Charlie Oatway (right) with a Horsham Seagull

Friday 11 November 2011

Charlie's Gonna Get Ya...

Albion legend Charlie Oatway will be appearing at the next meeting of the North West Sussex Seagulls. The meeting is due to take place at the Hare & Hounds in Cowfold at 7.30pm on Thursday 17th November.

If you want to find out more about this North West Sussex based Brighton & Hove Albion supporters club why not come along, grab a pint and have a chat with like minded Albion fans and meet Charlie - all in one fun packed evening. NWSS arrange coach transport to all of Albion's home games at the Amex along with some away trips and 'specials' like the recent England under 19's international. Just turn up and ask for Andy or myself, you'll be made to feel very welcome.

The Theatre Of Screams?

England under 19's International
Amex Stadium, Thursday 10th November
England 1, Denmark 0

Well, it was quite an experience looking after a coach load of enthusiastic and very excited young football fans for last night's England under 19's match at the Amex. We packed the NWSS flags along with a few parents and lots of kids into our two coaches as we made our way to the first ever international to be held at the Amex Stadium, which is now fondly known as our theatre of screams after all the shouting and hollering from the footie mad youngsters. I ask you, how's a man supposed to get any sleep in row B of the west stand upper with all that racket going on for goodness sake.

Highlight of the evening? Well, it wasn't the half time streaker where coincidentally everyone suddenly seemed to have a mobile phone camera in their hand at just the right (or wrong) time! However, we did experience our first ever Mexican wave at the Amex, right on kids. A decent match with a classy England goal late on to give the England youngsters a 1-0 victory. We all went home happy. After negotiating the coach park a headcount took place just before the home bound coach trip which was a nightmare as some of the lovely little blighters took great delight in hiding under their seats, God bless 'em all. A really enjoyable trip and hopefully the first of many 'specials' that the NWSS supporters club will hold in the future. I've now managed to see a match at the Amex on every day of the week and it's not even December, that's got to be a first hasn't it?

Photo's of the NWSS flags can be found on the North West Sussex Seagulls Facebook page here.

The NWSS Flag makes it's debut in the West Stand Upper

Friday 4 November 2011

Thank You & Goodbye

Glen Campbell In Concert
Brighton Dome 
Thursday 3rd November

Glen Campbell received one of the warmest welcomes I have ever witnessed at a concert hall. The recent announcement that he is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's meant that this would indeed be his final tour and the audience came in their numbers to bid him and his music a fond and loving farewell. It was a heartwarming evening tinged with sadness and regret that we would not be seeing this wonderful singer and musician on our shores again. Our hearts go out to him and his family and we wish him well.

Glen Campbell was well looked after on stage as his daughter and two sons formed part of his very talented backing band. They have clearly inherited his musical talent as they and long term friend and musical director T.J. Kuenster ably supported him throughout as they embarked on an evening of wonderful music and warm memories.

Glen's musical journey began way back in the early sixties when he was a much sought after session musician. He was a guitar player with real ability who was in demand and played with Phil Spector's legendary Wrecking Crew and at one point was even playing in the Beach Boys as a replacement for the gifted Brian Wilson who had quit touring in late 1964. His solo career got off to a somewhat stuttering start until Gentle On My Mind became his first major hit. Then he really struck gold and found Worldwide fame when he recorded the Jimmy Webb classic Wichita Lineman. He struck up a long and lasting friendship with the songwriter that was to be the making of his career as a solo artist and he became the greatest exponent and interpreter of Jimmy Webb's beautifully written songs.

The concert opened with Gentle On My Mind and was followed by the classic Galveston. The show continued with more of his greatest hits like Try A Little Kindness and It's Only Make Believe but it was the Jimmy Webb songs that really showed him at his best and resonated with his enthralled audience. Songs like Where's The Playground Suzie and Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife were well performed but he finally got to me with the heart wrenching and moving By The Time I Get To Phoenix. We also heard some new material from his excellent recently released album Ghost On The Canvas. We listened to the title track followed by  Your Amazing Grace and Any Trouble. All excellent songs well sung. 

We even had time for Duelling Banjos when he and his daughter Ashley duetted on their musical instruments at a great pace, all very enjoyable. There weren't many obvious signs of his illness although he did have his lyrics prompted by autocue, given the circumstances this was understandable and did not detract from his performance, vocally he sounded great, especially for someone who is unbelievably in his seventies. The audience were certainly happy just to be there in his company as we heard a sparse and simple arrangement for yet another Webb composition, The Moon's A Harsh Mistress, which was beautifully sung with just his MD on keyboards whilst his three children sat on stage watching their dad sing. Very touching.

He finally had my bottom lip quivering when we heard my personal favourite Wichita Lineman as the evening headed to a close and the show ended with the whole audience singing along to Rhinestone Cowboy. The audience demanded an encore and inevitably it followed as we heard In My Arms and the perfect show closer A Better Place, where we got to hear that Glen Campbell's religious beliefs will help him and his family as they move along the difficult road that lies ahead.

It's hard not to get emotional when a musical legend eventually has to stop performing and I'm sure there was a tear in many a fan's eye as he finally walked off stage in Brighton. We can only say thank you and goodbye, it was a privilege and a pleasure to see and hear you one last time Mr. Campbell.

Set list (as I remember it):
Gentle On My Mind
Try A Little Kindness
It’s Only Make Believe
Where’s The Playground Susie?
Dreams of the Everyday Housewife
By The Time I Get To Phoenix
Lovesick Blues
Guitar / banjo duet with Ashley Campbell (Duelling Banjos)
Hey Little One – Ashley Campbell & Shannon Campbell

Ghost On The Canvas
Your Amazing Grace
Any Trouble
Southern Nights
The Moon's A Harsh Mistress
Wichita Lineman
Rhinestone Cowboy

In My Arms
A Better Place

Sunday 9 October 2011

Happy Night For Hippies

Crosby & Nash in concert
Royal Albert Hall, London
8th October 2011

David Crosby and Graham Nash held 'another stoney evening' at the Royal Albert Hall last night and this was yet another evening to cherish. A sold out audience gave them a very warm welcome and then settled down for a concert to savour. It's true to say that most of the audience were of a 'certain age' but they knew good music when they heard it and were certainly about to enjoy every moment of a wonderful evening.

I last saw this duo in concert as part of the Crosby, Stills & Nash tour last year and whilst CSN have a distinctive vocal sound there is something unique about the relationship between Crosby & Nash that is very special. It's obvious that they have a very close bond, both as friends and also as musicians. They have a relaxed and endearing on stage presence and are clearly at ease in each other other's company. The pair have a strong common political sense particularly when addressing environmental issues and this becomes most obvious when listening to some of their material, yet they are also able to inject moments of great humour into their concerts. Crosby with his wicked, childlike humour and Nash, as always, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Crosby's powerful and gritty vocals blend and harmonise perfectly with Nash's sweet, pure vocal tones.

The evening opened with a Byrds classic, Eight Miles High followed by the Nash composed I Used To Be A King. The moody Long Time Gone and colourful Marrakesh Express were next and memories of the Woodstock era came flooding back. Crosby performed a new composition called A Slice Of Time and we heard the Graham Nash penned Just A Song Before I Go which is about leaving loved ones behind before going on a concert tour. It was written in Hawaii in about 20 minutes at the piano while Nash was staying with a friend, waiting for the rain to stop before leaving the house. The opening line came from the question "You've got half an hour, why don't you just write a song before you go?" and this was the result. We also heard Don't Dig Here, a song about the disposal of nuclear waste and how we should all be concerned (it's going to take about 30,000 years to get rid of it all apparently). The beautiful Wind On The Water followed which is about the plight of the whale and the first set ended with the rousing and absolutely brilliant Almost Cut My Hair which showed Crosby at his raging and ranting best.

The second set opened with a real treat and delightful surprise as Graham Nash invited former Hollies front man Allan Clarke to join him on stage to sing the classic Hollies song Bus Stop. This was brilliant and totally unexpected, a real spine tingling moment for us all. The gorgeous Our House and hauntingly beautiful Guinnevere were next up and I was up on my feet at the end of those two. We heard a perfect mix of Crosby's Orleans and Nash's Cathedral. Then Crosby got into his wonderful weird stuff once again with Deja Vu as the second half of the concert drew to a close with Military Madness, a song Nash wrote 46 years ago but is still as relevant today as it ever was, and finally ended with Wooden Ships, the highlight of the evening for me. The encore was Chicago and Teach Your Children which inevitably had everyone in the audience singing along for the finale.

It was a fantastic evening in the presence of two people who have won the respect and admiration of their peers and everyone in this audience for their groundbreaking music and their personal commitment and dedication to the environment and world peace - long may it continue, we need people like this to remind us of what really matters in this life. They may be old hippies, but hey, I still love them. Two hours and thirty minutes of amazing live music. Wonderful!

A full set list of the concert can be found here.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Ouch, That Really Hurt!

Albion 1, Crystal Palace 3: Amex, 27th September

When the 2011 fixture list came out the one match that Albion fans were looking forward to the most, and the one they really, really wanted to win was the derby game against Crystal Palace. This was the most eagerly awaited home fixture of the entire season and after a promising start in the Championship, and with Palace not winning any of their last four games, the Albion fans were expecting (and demanding) a victory. Rivalry is fierce between both sets of fans and it's been a few years since we have met in the league but Albion are in the ascendancy, was this is to be our year? It really means a lot to Brighton fans who haven't seen their team beat Palace at home since the late eighties, surely tonight was going to be the night. Once again a packed Amex stadium had a fantastic atmosphere with lots of noise and expectation was high.

Brighton got off to a fantastic start and Craig Mackail-Smith scored early on in the 7th minute, now we wondered how many more could we score. For 20 minutes it was looking good, Albion were the superior side and played their normal free flowing game, then for some inexplicable reason it all stopped. It looked like the wheels were coming off the Gus Bus and suddenly Palace were beginning to take control and starting to press Albion back. Half time arrived and Albion fans were happy to be 1-0 up but there were warning signs that things were not going according to plan, if only we had bothered to take notice. 

The second half got underway and it was one way traffic, unfortunately it was all heading towards the Brighton defence. Palace had the lions share of possession and continued to press. Albion held out for 80 minutes and then it all went horribly wrong. The hard working and impressive Zaha scored the first for Palace, then a defensive muddle gifted substitute Ambrose a second goal in the 89th minute and finally to cap off a miserable night for Brighton former Albion striker Glenn Murray scored a third goal in the 91st minute.

It was a bad night to be a Brighton fan, losing to Crystal Palace really, really hurts. Albion were unbeaten in the league at the Amex until last night and it was certainly a reality check for the fans and the players. Expectations have been running a little high of late and talk of promotion is premature so Brighton fans need to keep their feet on the ground and continue to support the team, especially when things are not going the way they want. It's off to Ipswich on Saturday where the Albion players need to put this defeat behind them and try and get three points to consolidate their position in the top six. I'll be there, cheering on the Seagulls as I always have done, and always will do.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Fans Reunited

What a warm welcome we got from the Green Army for yesterday's Fans Reunited day at Home Park in Plymouth. We met so many Argyle fans and were slightly embarrassed to get so many pats on the back and "thank you's" for coming along, I was welling up on more than one occassion I can tell you. It was so great to see smiling faces on a true fans day out at what must be a difficult time for Plymouth Argyle's fans and their 125 year old club.

It was a fantastic day and the packed FanFest event in the Pyramid Suite at the ground was brilliant. The guys on stage doing the singing and banter were very entertaining, the pasty delicious and the many pints greatfully received. Albion's poet in residence Atilla the Stockbroker (John Baine) was invited up on stage and gave a really emotional reading of Goldstone Ghost as a tribute to his now departed dad. It had him, and many of the fans present, in tears at the end. The FanFest is an event that encourages football fans to mix, chat and exchange views. I think it should be done at other football grounds as well, it's a really good way for fans of clubs to meet and get together before a match and is held in the true spririt of football.

Highlight of the day for me was meeting Pilgrim Pete, the Plymouth Argyle mascot. A true legend. Sadly he wasn't on the teamsheet but the Pilgrims still managed to beat Macclesfield 2-0 without him. Their first win of the season and hopefully the first of many.

Me meeting up with the legend that is Pilgrim Pete
It was worth making the long coach trip and I'm really pleased that we went along to support the Argyle fans. I hope that us Brighton supporters along with fans from the many other clubs who attended yesterday's special day helped move things along in a small, meaningful and encouraging way and I trust and hope that there will now always be a special bond of friendship between Brighton & Plymouth fans. We know and understand exactly what they are going through as we've been there and come through it, so we know that the Green Army and their club can do the same.

To the small young boy who I gave my Green Army scarf to at half time in the concourse of the Grandstand: Wear it with pride and look after your club. Tell your schoolmates that it was given to you by a Brighton fan on Fans Reunited Day and who, like you, is a true football club supporter. You can say, as can I, that you were proud to have been there on that special day.

Fans United will never be defeated!

Click here to see my Fans Reunited photos album web page.

Friday 23 September 2011

Six Goal Thriller Against Leeds

Albion's goalscorer Craig Mackail-Smith
Albion 3 - Leeds 3: Amex, Friday 23rd September

Albion stormed back from 0-2 down in an exciting six goal thriller at the Amex tonight. On a night when many Albion fans were 'going green' to show support for Plymouth Argyle's plight at the tail end of League Two Brighton took to the pitch in confident mood to try and reclaim Championship top spot. Manager Gus Poyet made several team changes in what was Albion's second match in 48 hours, back in came Painter, Lua Lua, Dunk and Dicker.

However it proved to be another difficult start for Brighton as Leeds took an early lead through Andrew Keogh in the 18th minute. Things got even worse when Leeds scored a second some seven minutes later through McCormack who shot from 25 yards to beat Albion keeper Casper Ankergren. At 0-2 down by half time it looked like Albion had a mountain to climb.

Yet again Gus Poyet's half time team talk brought instant results. Craig Mackail-Smith struck early into the second period with a well taken goal after turning his defender. From that point on it was all Albion as they chased for an equaliser. They were rewarded for their hard work when Lua Lua's through ball to Mackail-Smith resulted in the striker being fouled in the box and referee Lee Probert duly awarded a penalty to Brighton. Up stepped Barnes to slam in his second penalty goal of the week. The Brighton players and their fans were really beginning to believe that this was a game that they could win and in the 85th minute their dreams were realised as Mackail-Smith scored his second goal of the evening after an inch perfect pass from Barnes to send the Seagull fans into raptures.

However there was to be a late, late twist in the tale as Albion's keeper inexplicably kicked a long ball up field rather than pass it out to one of his defenders. That mistake came back to haunt Albion as the ball came straight back towards the Albion defence and McCormack scored his second of the night to see Leeds take a share of the spoils in the second minute of injury time. A thrilling encounter but two points dropped is probably how Albion and their fans will see this result.

Tuesday night's upcoming encounter with arch rivals Crystal Palace is next up and probably the Albion fan's most eagerly anticipated fixture of the season. It promisies to be a real corker with bundles of atmosphere if recent games are anything to go by.

A full match report of Albion vs Leeds can be read here on the official Seagulls website.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Albion Go Out To Liverpool

Albion 1 - Liverpool 2: Carling Cup 3rd Round

Amex Stadium, Wednesday 21st September

Albion went out of the Carling Cup to Premiership side Liverpool but what a fabulous night it was at the Amex. The first sell out crowd at the new stadium was enthralled as the game ebbed and flowed. The first forty minutes were dominated by Liverpool's slick one touch pass and move play. An early goal in the 7th minute by the enigmatic Craig Bellamy meant Albion were left chasing the game for most of the first half. Truth be told Liverpool could have scored a hatful in the first half as they hit the woodwork three times. Suarez passing shot hit the post and Bellamy's absolutely stunning 35 yard free kick came off the crossbar. Bellamy on his first start for Liverpool is a bit of a moaner, he causes  trouble and wreaks havoc wherever he plays. He ruffles feathers and fans love to hate and bait him...and I would have him in my team tomorrow. Liverpool scorned more opportunities to score in the first half but it was Brighton who finished the half more strongly with a flurry of activity and a couple of half chances as they went in 0-1 down at the interval, however it could have been worse.

I don't know what manager Gus Poyet said to his team during the half time period but they came out a different side for the second half. They started pushing the ball around in the now familiar passing game that Albion fans have become used to. Bridcut was immense in midfield and star of the show was yet again winger Craig Noone. The young Liverpudlian who three years ago was playing non league football in Merseyside and earning a living by replacing tiles on Steven Gerrard's roof was again a revelation. Every time he got the ball you knew something exciting was going to happen. His pace and tricky wing play was causing Liverpool problems as Brighton pressed for an equaliser. Noone hit a thumping shot against the bar and Albion fans felt a goal was coming. Indeed it was, unfortunately it was Dirk Kuyt of Liverpool who scored it in the 81st minute. It was a classic counter attack and the Dutchman put the ball away in the far corner to kill off Albion's chances of winning the game.

Brighton's players didn't give up though, they never do. And in the 89th minute were awarded a penalty for a trip on Albion substitute Vicente. Up stepped Barnes and hammered the ball into the back of the net. Four minutes extra time was not enough and the Seagulls experienced their first home defeat in competitive football at the Amex.

No matter though, it was good experience for the players, especially the younger ones. Defenders Steve Cook & Romain Vincelot impressed at the heart of the Albion defence and Will Buckley's pacey play on the flank was terrific to watch. A brilliant atmosphere from the Seagulls fans made for a very enjoyable evening, even though the result didn't go our way. We now meet Leeds in a Championship match only two days after the Liverpool game so let's hope that the players are not too exhausted from their efforts in the Carling Cup. Coming up after Leeds is the BIG one, Crystal Palace at the Amex next Tuesday evening. This is the game every Albion fan wants to go to. Hope you can make it, it'll be a cracker.

A full match report can be found on the Seagulls official website here.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Good Vibrations at the Festival Hall

Brian Wilson in concert -
Royal Festival Hall, London
16th September 2011

The secret to appreciating Brian Wilson is to look beyond the sometimes fragile voice, accept that he may not always reach those high notes like he used to, accept that he is no longer 23 but approaching 70 and accept that it is his music that matters, not the appearance or the sometimes odd mannerisms that you see on stage. The uncomfortable nervousness and stage fright is there for all to see, but through the darkness and hurt of those tragic drug filled years shines a light, and that light is Brian Wilson's music.

This man, who has created some of the best four part vocal harmonies ever heard in popular music, is actually deaf in one ear. He had a violent, bullying father and a work rate that produced an unbelievable number of classic Beach Boys albums in the early part of his career that resulted in burn out and breakdown. He's gone through the worst kind of drug and alcohol abuse, struggled with obesity, depression and mental health problems and seen his two younger brothers die tragically young. It's not been easy being Brian Wilson. To have survived all that must leave mental scars, some of which may never heal, but he has come through it all and the light that is his music shines as bright as ever, you just have to know how to look for it. When you find it you appreciate it in all its glory and begin to understand this man's musical genius. His back catalogue are the songs of a generation that began in the sixties but are continuing some five decades later. His music is as valid and relevant today as it's ever been.

There is more to Brian Wilson than just watching a former Beach Boy sing old surfing songs, seeing him in concert is a unique experience filled with emotion and love. With vocal harmonies that were created in heaven and songs that are so well written you know that you are in for an unforgettable experience.

He took to the stage at a packed Royal Festival Hall in London to rapturous applause and was given a very warm welcome. Brian was here to perform his personal tribute to the music of George & Ira Gershwin and the opening set was a complete performance of his recent CD 'Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin'. From the opening acapella Rhapsody In Blue we knew we were in for a marvelous evening. Ably supported as always by his excellent note and voice perfect band and backed up by the Stockholm Strings we were treated to Gershwin classics like Summertime, I loves You Porgy, I Got Plenty O' Nuttin', It Ain't Necessarily So, I've Got A Crush On You, I Got Rhythm and the beautifully performed Someone To Watch Over Me. Brian bookended the set with Rhapsody In Blue again and before we knew it the interval was upon us.

The second set was a giant Beach Boys hits fest and it wasn't too long before the audience were up on their feet dancing the evening away. Classic, timeless music that everyone knew and sang along to. From the familiar opening of California Girls through to Dance Dance Dance, Wendy, the wonderful Surfer Girl (the first song Brian ever wrote) and Catch A Watch. We also listened to a vocally perfect rendition of the seldom heard Surfer Moon followed by such classics as Darlin', I Get Around and Sail On Sailor. The highlight for me, as always, was the Pet Sounds section with God Only Knows bringing out a well deserved standing ovation. Ending with Do It Again, Heroes & Villains and Good Vibrations the evening was drawing to a close. The now familiar hits encore continued with Johnny B Goode, Help Me Rhonda, Barbara Ann, Surfin' USA and Fun Fun Fun. The concert drew to a close as it always traditionally does with his heartfelt rendition of Love And Mercy, a wonderful way to end any concert. 

What a fantastic back catalogue of music this man has to call upon. The superb band of musicians that Brian has surrounded himself with only enhance the quality of his music. Listening to these songs again makes you realise just how great a talent Brian Wilson is, he's up there with the best of the 20th century songwriters. George & Ira Gershwin, Lennon & McCartney, Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach, Goffin & King, Paul Simon, Jimmy Webb and Brian Wilson. The man sure keeps good company.

Given his age and recent rumours, I wondered if this would be the last ever time that Brian Wilson would be touring the UK. If this was to be my final glimpse of Brian Wilson in concert then it was a fitting finale, thank you for the music Brian.

See Brian Wilson's set list at the Royal Festival Hall by clicking here.

Friday 9 September 2011

Land Of The Living - A Tribute To 9/11

If you've got four minutes to spare then watch this video, you'll be moved. Lucy Kaplansky is a singer songwriter who was living in New York on 9/11. She wrote this song after getting into a New York cab shortly after the event and seeing her beat up Muslim taxi driver. This four minutes of music captures the tragic events of that September day like no other. Inspirational stuff.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Help Save Plymouth Argyle!

Albion fans are declaring that it's to be a Fans Re-United day at Plymouth Argyle on Saturday 24th September. Remember the support Albion needed, and got, from other fans at clubs from all over the UK on our own Fans United day? Well now it's time to repay the favour. Argyle are in real danger of going into liquidation and out of business within the next few weeks, the club and its fans need all the help and support they can get at the moment. It's not easy being Green right now. Find out more about Plymouth Argyle's struggle to survive here.

Brighton supporters are trying to get fans from other clubs involved to see if they can organise this event in support of Plymouth Argyle and it's fans. Why not consider joining others for a day out in Plymouth and at the same time show some solidarity with the Green Army fans. As an Albion follower you will be given a warm welcome and you will be seeing teams from Brighton, Liverpool FC, Leeds Utd, Crystal Palace, Plymouth Argyle and Macclesfield all in the space of seven days - quite a prospect.

There is a Facebook page for 'Fans Re-United' here and BHA Blues Away are organising coaches to Plymouth departing at 7.00am from Withdean at a cost of £23 per person. If you want to book a seat on the coach then send an email to or go to the 'Fans Re-United Travel' web page here. Match tickets at Plymouth Argyle can be purchased at the gate on the day and cost £20 for adults and £7 for under 18's. You can find out more info here on North Stand Chat or at PASOTI, the Pilgrims fans forum here.

Go Green
Albion fans are also being urged to 'Go Green' for the televised evening home game against Leeds United on Friday 23rd September by wearing green and white to show support for Plymouth Argyle's plight. There is even talk of the Fans Re-United event possibly being spread over three separate dates. The first on 24th September followed by Crawley Town vs Argyle on 1st October and a final big event on 8th October as Plymouth take on Acrington Stanley. This final date just happens to coincide with Argyle's 125th anniversary so it could be perfect timing. There are no Premiership or Championship fixtures on 8th October so it is possible that the culmination of Argyle's Fans Re-United event could see hundreds of fans from all over the country flocking to Home Park, Plymouth.

Sunday 28 August 2011

It's Liverpool!

It's a perfect Bank Holiday weekend for Albion. Not only are they undefeated in the league, but a home win against Peterborough sees them go top of the Championship, and just to cap it all off they have been drawn at home to Livepool in Round 3 of the Carling Cup. A dream tie for Brighton and their fans, especially as it's a home game at the Amex. The match will be played on Wednesday 21st September and will be televised live on Sky TV. Expect a near sell out crowd for this one. This season just seems to get better and better.

Albion Go Top Of The League

Albion 2, Peterborough 0 - Amex Stadium, 27th August:

An absolutely stunning second half free kick from 30 yards out by Ryan Harley on his home league debut secured Albion all three points on a day that saw them go surging to the top the Championship.

Star of the show yet again was Craig Noone who taunted and teased the Posh defence. A typical jinky run and shot from 20 yards out brought him his reward in the tenth minute of the first half. Albion were playing their usual passing game and looking comfortable went in 1-0 up at half time.

The second half got off to a worrying start for Albion as Posh almost scored direct from the kick off when Lee Frecklington rounded keeper Casper Ankergren but Inigo Calderon cleared off the line. Peterborough started to gain more possesion without posing any real threat to the Albion defence. Then in the 65th minute Albion got a free kick awarded from fully 30 yards out. Harley stepped up to take the kick with most Albion fans probably thinking that he surely couldn't score from there, but he was about to prove the doubters wrong. It was a simply brilliant free kick that went straight into the top left hand corner of the goal, it was unstoppable. I don't think you will see a better free kick at the Amex this season, it was just stunning. It  would appear that Albion have now found a free kick specialist to replace the recently departed Elliott Bennett. The goal effectively ended Peterborough's attempt to get something out of the game.

Liam Bridcut playing this usual holding role in midfield was outstanding at breaking up the play when needed and rookie centre half Lewis Dunk was yet again immense at the back when called upon. This 19 year old is a real find and it surely won't be long before he gets an England under 21 call up. Up front Craig Mackail-Smith had a somewhat quieter afternoon playing against his former club and was hampered by Posh defenders who clearly knew his abilities in front of goal. Overall Albion deserved their win and although Posh made some good forward attacking play their front players were not clinical enough to make their second half possession count. With Saints and Derby both losing the result saw Albion climb to the top of the Championship table. A wonderful start to the season for Gus Poyet and his team. Full match report here.

With a two week international break coming up because of the European qualifiers it means that Brighton will hang onto top spot for at least a fortnight until they visit Bristol City for their next Championship league game. Unbelievably it will be four weeks before Albion's next home game so no pies and pints at the Amex for a month means an enforced diet for yours truly, still at least the XXXL shirt might now fit me!

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Sunderland Crash Out To Albion

Albion 1, Sunderland 0 - Tuesday 23rd August
Carling Cup, Round 2:

Premiership Sunderland went crashing out of the Carling Cup last night to Championship high flyers Brighton. The Albion were outstanding and deserved their victory. Star of the show was Albion winger Craig Noone who ran rings around the Sunderland defenders for most of the evening. Don't underestimate this win against a team in the top flight, Brighton's football was fantastic to watch and the Seagull fans who were in full voice throughout are convinced that their team is going places, and they're not wrong.

Albion started with new signing Ryan Harley playing in midfield and got off to a confident early start with their usual stylish flowing football. They were using the full width of the enormous Amex pitch and passing the ball around nicely. Ashley Barnes missed a good opportunity after the opposition keeper Keiren Westwood spilled a fierce shot from Craig Mackail-Smith. Sunderland then came back into the game for the last 25 minutes of the first half and had several attempts towards goal themselves, with wide player Kieran Richardson looking very dangerous at times. However it was to be a false dawn for them and their near full strength side.

The second half saw Albion storm into Sunderland territory, dominating the play at times and defending well when they needed to. Craig Mackail-Smith, who was chasing everything, was desperately unlucky when his shot rebounded off the post only to run along the goal line and go agonisingly out of play. Craig Noone was outstanding throughout and clearly deserved his man of the match award. What a player this boy is, okay he sometimes hangs on to the ball a little too long and may try to take on one too many when heading towards goal but he is such an exciting player to watch. He creates so much and never, ever gives up the chase. Everything that Albion did going forward came through him and he was a constant thorn in the side of the black cats defence. At the back homegrown 19 year old centre half Lewis Dunk looked like a giant in the heart of Albion's defence and is learning and getting better with every game, a real prospect for the future. Liam Bridcut, who was as industrious as ever, broke up the play and sprayed the ball around in midfield while Harley had a very good debut with some nice touches. After 90 minutes the match was level at 0-0 so we went into extra time. Would we be fit & strong enough? Yes. Would Sunderland raise their game and get an equaliser? No.

Extra time got under way and in the first period Mackail-Smith got his just reward for all his hard work. The impressive Alan Navarro put in a perfect cross for the prolific striker to head home the winner from close in. An unstoppable header that sent the Seagull fans into raptures of delight. The songs and chanting between the West Stand and the North Stand got even more vociferous as the fans sung their team on towards a famous victory. It was a terrific game to watch and the atmosphere and noise at the Amex is incredible, it's truly a world away from the roofless Withdean years.

The only dampener on an otherwise joyful evening was the injury list which seems to be getting a little bit too long for comfort. Skipper Gordon Greer took a knock and had to leave the pitch at half time and was replaced after the interval by Romain Vincelot, who himself had to be replaced 30 minutes later after dislocating his shoulder in a nasty looking fall. Assistant manager Mauricio Taricco and Kasenga Lua Lua came on as replacements and the change seemed seamless as Albion forged on and played their own brand of unique football. It was yet another great night of entertainment at the American Express Community Stadium.

A full match report can be seen here at the official Seagulls web site.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Late Goal Stuns Albion

Albion 2, Blackpool 2 - Saturday 20th August:

Albion hosted former Premiership side Blackpool at the Amex and with three straight league wins under the Albions belt they were seeking a fourth. With Will Hoskins and Will Buckley both injured Craig Noone got his first league start and Kasenga Lua Lua was on the bench. Albion got off to a bright and confident start with the energetic Noone impressing yet again on the wing. A perfect cross in the 27th minute found Craig Mackail-Smith in the penalty area and the striker headed the ball fiercely into the net giving Matt Gilks, the Blackpool keeper, no chance.

Albion doubled their score early on in the second half when Ashley Barnes scored from close in. Two nil up and cruising, or so we thought. A triple substitution by Blackpool's manager Ian Holloway seemed to inspire his team who slowly began to take charge and started to to gain more possession. The response was quick and Blackpool's first goal was scored by the most experienced player on the pitch. Kevin Phillips, who very nearly joined Albion in the summer, scored a terrific header and Brighton started to feel a little uncomfortable. As Albion tried to get back into the game there was a good penalty shout as it clearly looked like Barnes was fouled in the area but this was turned down by the referee. Substitute Lua Lua came on for Noone in a like for like swap but his introduction didn't really change the flow of the game and he made no real impact in my opinion, although he did manage a couple of decent crosses into the box. As the game wore on Blackpool's second half pressure finally told in the dying minutes as Phillips scored yet again, this time from his right foot in the penalty area. A full in depth match report is available here at the Seagulls official web site.

Perhaps one could be critical and say that there was some poor defending by Albion who really should have been more alive to the threat that Phillips posed but let's not deny that Blackpool deserved their point. On reflection a draw was probably a fair result on the day. I think most Albion fans would have settled for ten points out of twelve before the season started and let's not forget that the opposition was playing at the highest level last season. Next up at the Amex is Premiership outfit Sunderland on Tuesday in the Carling Cup before Brighton return to league action next Saturday for their third home match in a week as they meet Peterborough (who scored seven on Saturday!). The season is young but Albion are still in the top six having made a good start, let's hope it continues.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Three Is A Magic Number

Two goal hero Ashley Barnes celebrates
Cardiff 1, Albion 3 - Wednesday 17th August:
Brighton continued their excellent start to the Championship campaign by winning away at strongly fancied Cardiff City. This made it a hat trick of league wins and the Albion have now gained the nine point maximum from their first three games. On paper this looked like it would be the toughest test yet for the newly promoted Seagulls but the team from Sussex played some clever football and deservedly won the match.

Albion's opening goal in the first half was a real cracker, superbly scored by Ashely Barnes from fully 25 yards, it was probably his best ever goal for the club. Then the prolific Barnes scored another goal from the penalty spot in the second half to put the Albion 2-0 up. Say what you like about Barnsey, he'll miss chances but he does get himself in some good scoring positions and will always be capable of getting you a goal when you need it. To end a fantastic evening for Brighton and the 700 Seagull fans who made the long midweek journey to Wales it was second half substitute Will Hoskins who scored on his Albion debut to unbelievably make it 3-0.

Despite a bit of late pressure and a last minute injury time penalty reply from Cardiff it was Albion who ran out winners to go joint top of the Championship. A brilliant result for Gus Poyet whose tactics and team selection were spot on.  Next up are Blackpool this Saturday at the Amex, I just can't wait.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Seagulls Soar At Pompey

Goalscorer Craig Mackail-Smith
Portsmouth 0, Albion 1 - 13th August 2011:
Brighton went to Portsmouth looking for all three points to maintain the best possible start to their Championship season. Around 3,000 Seagull fans saw Craig Mackail-Smith put away his first goal in Albion colours right at the end of the first half. After a tough second half period Albion looked to be heading towards their first win at Fratton Park since 1985  when they conceded an injury time penalty after Lewis Dunk handled in the area. Thankfully Lawrence smashed the ball against the post and Albion went home with three hard won points that keeps them joint top of the Championship table. A full match report is available here at the Seagulls website. 

The only sad part of the afternoon was when Will Buckley went off injured in the first half with a suspected hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for a couple of weeks. His replacement Craig Noone was again impressive when he took to the pitch. I predict that the pacey and tricky Noone could well become one of Brighton's star players this season, he already appears to be something of a fans favourite.

So, it's six points from two league games and currently joint top. Also through to Round 2 of the Carling Cup with a dream home tie against Premiership outfit Sunderland next Tuesday evening. A promising start to the campaign but a sterner test will surely come this Wednesday when Brighton play away at table toppers Cardiff City. That result will be a good indicator of Albion's progress in this league. Could it be a hat trick of wins? It's a tough ask without the impressive Buckley but it is actually possible. I guess we'll all know soon enough.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Albion Shine Under Floodlights At The Amex

Albion 1, Gillingham 0 - Tuesday 9th August, Carling Cup:

The first ever evening game under the new Amex floodlights saw Albion go through to the next round of the Carling Cup against their former landlords Gillingham. Gus Poyet made three changes to his starting line up and it wasn't an easy victory as the League Two side battled away to make it an uncomfortable if hard fought win for Brighton.

A mistake by Dicker nearly gifted Gills an early lead but as the first half wore on Albion began passing the ball around in their customary style and gained most of the possession, although for all their possesion there were not that many shots on target. The pacey Craig Noone and Will Buckley on the flanks began to wreak havoc and the Gillingham full backs did well not to concede as the sides went in level at half time.

The second half became a rather scrappy affair after Barnes scored a 67th minute penalty for what looked like a rather soft call by the referee to be honest when Buckley went down in the area. After that the match became more physical as Gillingham, clearly unhappy about the penalty decision, tried to get back into the game. Gills had seven players booked in what became a niggly and somewhat bad tempered second half period and young Stefan Payne was lucky to stay on the pitch after one reckless challenge left Albion's Romain Vincelot writhing in agony by the touchline. It was clearly a red card offence but yet again the ref showed a yellow.

After the game Gillingham manager Andy Hessenthaler was honest enough to admit that his player should have been sent off. Albion didn't really test the Gillingham goalkeeper too much on the night but generally did enough to win the contest and they never really looked like losing it. For a full in depth match report go to The Argus website here.

I guess it was inevitable that after Saturday's euphoric and emotional match against Doncaster that this game was never going to reach the same dizzy heights. No matter, Albion are through to the next round and we await to see who our opponents will be, let's hope it's a top Premiership side.

Ashley Barnes puts away the penalty
 (photo courtesy of The Argus website)

Sunday 7 August 2011

Buckley At The Double On An Historic Day

Albion 2, Doncaster Rovers 1 - 6th August 2011:

Brighton's historic opening Championship match at the new Amex Stadium was a real barnstormer of a game that had just about everything. And the flags, my God the flags, thousands of 'em, just brilliant. What a Saturday afternoon this turned out to be. It was an emotional start to our Championship season with all the Albion fans waving their flags like crazy and singing their hearts out. As the teams came out I'm not too proud to say that it brought a tear to the eye of this Albion fan. It was an exciting start to The Seagulls campaign with a great atmosphere and lots of noise coming from every stand. The Albion fans were just fantastic throughout, the place was rocking!.

The game was to be something of a roller coaster ride for Albion with Doncaster Rovers the better team in the first half and the prolific Billy Sharp getting the opening goal for the visitors after Gary Dicker carelessly lost possession in midfield. Probably well deserved if I'm honest. It wasn't a particularly physical game but three Doncaster players managed to get themselves booked by the referee in the first half. Kasenga Lua Lua for the Albion was brought crashing down on a couple of occasions early on but the third time he was also booked by the ref for diving. This incensed manager Gus Poyet who rightly felt that Lua Lua's tumble was not self inflicted but a result of a fair but hard challenge from Rovers James Hayter. As a result of his complaints to the officials Poyet was ordered from the dug out for the duration and ended up watching the rest of the match from the press box.

The second half saw Craig Noone replace Lua Lua and there was a definite improvement. As the game wore on Albion put more of their passing game together as they started to press Rovers. Billy Sharp was stretchered off after a tough tackle from Lewis Dunk and Rovers started to suddenly look vulnerable. Gus Poyet then made a second substitution and replaced the industrious but rather ineffective Matt Sparrow with new million pound signing Will Buckley. This proved to be an inspirational move. Now Albion stepped up a gear, kept possession and really started to dominate the game and went looking for the equaliser with real conviction. Finally the pressure brought a result and it was Buckley with a fierce low drive from just outside the penalty area that found the bottom right hand corner of goalkeeper Gary Woods net. The place erupted with noise as the fans went wild and asked themselves if  Albion could possibly get a winner. The answer was yes. With Rovers down to ten men after an 89th minute injury to Hayter the referee signalled seven minutes stoppage time and it was in the very last minute that Noone laid on a dream pass to Buckley, who squared up and slotted the ball beautifully past the despairing Rovers keeper. The crowd went wild yet again and even more flag waving followed, it was an unbelievable end to a thoroughly entertaining game. Although Doncaster Rovers made the brighter start it was Brighton & Hove Albion who took all three points in a real thriller of a match.

To be fair to Doncaster Rovers they played their part and may count themselves a touch unlucky not to come away with a point. They play their football in a similar attractive fashion to Albion, keeping the ball on the ground and playing a good passing game. Sadly the injuries to Billy Sharp and James Hayter look serious as they both left the ground on crutches after this encounter and it would appear that they will be out of action for some time. Hopefully their absence won't affect Rovers too much as the team seem to have a bit of quality and are good to watch.  

Sunday 31 July 2011

Opening Day Spurs On The Albion

Saturday 30th July 2011: Albion 2, Spurs 3
It was a perfect summer's day and 18,000 eager football fans turned up to witness the official grand opening of the brand new and magnificent American Express Community Stadium in Falmer (the Amex to you and me). Nestling into the Sussex countryside the stadium is a real gem, beautifully designed and just great to look at - especially if you're a long suffering Brighton fan who's only seen football played at the dreadful and roofless Withdean Stadium.

The afternoon got underway at 1.30pm with a marching band, opera singer Martin Toal singing his heart out and former Albion players and managers also putting in an appearance. The highlight for me was seeing the best Albion player ever to wear the number 8 shirt, the magical Peter Ward. Coming out onto the Amex pitch to thunderous applause he did what each and every one of us Brighton fans wanted to do...he kissed the turf. What a legend!

The friendly match itself was almost secondary but the Albion played some really good football against a very strong Spurs first team. The Seagulls were particularly strong in the opening thirty minutes. A well crafted pass from the hard working and impressive Craig Mackail-Smith was finished off clinically in the eleventh minute by the prolific Ashely Barnes. The crowd went wild and the noise was incredible. Brighton began to play their passing game and were definitely looking the better side, until two defensive errors late on in the first half gifted Spurs two soft goals.

When Albion came out for the second half they pressed early on and Kasenga Lua Lua does what he does best, scored a 20 yard scorcher then followed it up with his trademark celebration somersault tumble. Brighton fans (and possibly Gus) had their hearts in their mouths at that moment fearing he might damage his recently mended ankle, they needn't have worried as Lua Lua was in sparkling form all afternoon. Sadly for Brighton there was a terrible goalkeeping gaff by Albion substitute goalkeeper Peter Brezovan a few minutes later that meant Spurs took a 3-2 lead.

Albion brought on substitutes Will Buckley, the lively Craig Noone and Roland Bergkamp to try and get the goal back but in truth the game rather fizzled out as it wore on late into the second half. Spurs became a bit stronger and consolidated with the energetic Aaron Lennon being a constant thorn in Albion's defensive side. Nonetheless it was an extremely enjoyable and attractive game of football to watch, a very good performance by newly promoted Brighton against a top flight Premiership side. Albion looked particularly good going forward and at times were the better team on the pitch, if it wasn't for the three defensive errors then Albion would have come out winners. It bodes well for the future if they continue to play like this, as long as they cut out the mistakes at the back. There's a full write up here at the Seagulls website for anyone that wants to read a more detailed match report. 

Friday 29 July 2011

Dick's Bar at the Amex

I decided that it was time for the darling wife to see what all the fuss is about at the Amex so yesterday we took a drive over to Falmer so she could view the stadium for herself and see what I'm getting for my season ticket money. Whilst there we paid a visit to the newly opened Dick's Bar. Named after former chairman, and now life president, Dick Knight it offers an enjoyable and pleasant drinking and eating experience. The menu on offer was varied and reasonably priced with a good choice of decent beers. Their were lots of wall mounted TV screens to keep up to date with Sky Sports News and the seating was very comfortable.

It was great to see Dick himself sitting in there enjoying a sandwich and also see other Albion 'faces' like Martin Perry, Richard Hebbard and Paul Camilin in there as well. It just made us realise that the people that run our club do not sit in ivory towers, are in touch at 'ground level' and not afraid to mix and chat with us 'ordinary' fans (and not a prawn sandwich in sight). So well done to them for being there and actually using the facilty. The whole ambience of the place is wonderful, a relaxed atmosphere with well presented and attentive bar staff.

The decor is superb with Albion Legends etched into a large glass window. It was also terrific to see the magnificent Albion Fans Mosaic mounted on the far wall. This is a huge mosaic made up of thousands of photo's submitted by Brighton fans. I eventually found my ten photos after a fifteen minute hunt! 

I finally found me on the back of Wardy's shirt
The magnificent giant Albion Fans Mosaic
I understand that the bar is open to the public on non-match days between 8am-7pm and open to Albion ticket holders only from 1pm on matchdays, closing two hours after the final whistle. Be warned though, the capacity is limited to 200 people so do get there early on match days. The bar is located under the North Stand and entry is via a grey signed door between the club shop and the North side reception entrance to the right of the shop. If the grey door is closed just wander up through the North side reception area and up the first flight of stairs. It's well worth a visit.