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.