Sunday 25 November 2012

The Late, Late Show

Albion 1, Bolton Wanderers 1
The Amex Stadium
Saturday 24th November

Last Saturday Bolton Wanderers were the visitors to Brighton’s Amex stadium. In appalling weather it was a game that Albion dominated from start to almost finish, however a late 95th minute equaliser proved to be a cruel ending to a match that the home team had plenty of chances to kill off early on.  Yet again a penalty opportunity was squandered when Ashley Barnes failed to convert in the 14th minute and then missed what looked like an easy chance to make amends on the rebound. In the first half Orlandi in midfield for Albion was inspiring and the industrious Liam Bridcut sitting in his usual role in front of the back four was winning every tackle. Bolton’s goal certainly led a charmed life as Albion hit the woodwork three times and the ex Premiership side hardly had a chance worth mentioning.
Somehow the teams went in level at half time but Albion’s early second half pressure paid off when full back and man of the match Bruno Salter scored an unstoppable cracker from 35 yards out.  It was no less than the home side deserved and they continued to press and came close to increasing their score on several occasions. Those misses were to prove costly when the referee gave five minutes added time and Bolton took full advantage with literally the very last kick of the match as David Ngog scored that late, late equaliser in front of their jubilant fans. It was a result that a poor Bolton side did not deserve and for the third game running Albion had conceded a last minute goal. Sometimes football just isn’t fair but Albion really do need to learn how to close a game out and they must make the most of every goal scoring opportunity, including any penalty decisions that come their way.

Brighton fans shouldn’t be too disappointed though as Albion completely outplayed and outclassed an ex Premiership side for 94 minutes and even Bolton manager Dougie Freedman conceded that Brighton were fantastic and looked a class act. If Albion keep playing this way and learn how to finish teams off they look like they may do rather well this season. The team are stronger than this time last year and they look much more solid defensively but they do need to convert the opportunities that are presented to them up front.
As I write this, Tuesday night's home game with Bristol City has yet to take place but Albion currently sit just outside the top six with the biggest match of the season coming up this Saturday as Albion take on table topping Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. That game is the one that every Albion fan wants to win and should prove if their team are real contenders or not this campaign.

Friday 23 November 2012

Tempted By Paul Carrack

Paul Carrack
The Hawth, Crawley
Thursday 22nd November 2012

Wow! Just been to see the fantastic Paul Carrack in concert at The Hawth in Crawley. Very impressive. What a great singer, songwriter and musician this guy is. 

I've seen Paul Carrack in concert quite a few times and he's like a fine wine...he just gets better with age. This guy is so versatile he can sing and play almost anything. He has such a rich, soulful voice and his backing band are top notch musicians themselves. As well as being an artist in his own right he's a highly respected and much sought after session musician as well and has played in bands such as Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze and Mike & The Mechanics.

The support band, Tinlin, were excellent. This trio comprises of brothers Rolf and Alex Tinlin on acoustic guitars along with Paul Carrack's son Jack on percussion. They performed a really good set with all their own material, the standout song being the delightful Steal from their new CD Shade Of The Shadows. 

Paul Carrack took to the stage at a packed Hawth to a very warm reception. From beginning to end it was a terrific concert performance. It's so hard to pick out my favourite Paul Carrack performance of the night when you have classics such as Tempted, How Long and Over My Shoulder to choose from but the highlights of the set for me were the bluesy belter Better Than Nothing, the achingly beautiful and tender Eyes Of Blue and of course the real crowd pleaser, the touchingly sad and emotional Living Years. The concert ended on a real high with his rendition of the Marvin Gaye classic What's Going On. This is one of my all time favourite songs and Mr Carrack did it justice, a truly great way to end the evening.

A really good night for me as I did a bit of dad dancing in the front row and came away with Paul's set list from the stage, a poster from one of the Hawth walls and a signed copy of his latest CD in my hands. You may not know the name Paul Carrack but you will definitely know the voice.
For those of you that want a starting point to investigate Paul Carrack's music then try getting hold of a copy of his latest compilation release, Paul Carrack Collected, this is a bumper 3 CD album packed with all sorts of goodies. Due for release on 26th November it can be bought from his website here

If you get the chance then do go to see him in concert, you won't regret it. Paul Carrack is currently touring the UK until March 2013 and more of his concert dates can be found here. Want to know more about this fine musician? Then you can find out more info about him here.

Set list:
Good Feeling
Long Ago
Satisfy My Soul
Better Than Nothing
Beautiful World
I Can Hear Ray
Make It Right (with support band Tinlin)
From Now On
I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love
If I Should Fall Behind
Eyes Of Blue
The Living Years
When My Little Girl Is Smiling
Time To Move On
How Long

Over My Shoulder
What's Going On

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Let Them Eat Cake On Coach 1

NWSS Coach 1 Introduce A Grub Stop:

I hear that the North West Sussex Seagulls Coach 1 (aka Andy's coach) had a 'cake stop' on it's way to the Amex last Saturday for the Barnsley match. That will explain why it was so far behind the newly re-branded and super-fast Usain Bolt like Coach 2 in arriving at the Amex coach park. I suspect this cake stop was a bribery campaign to try and attract some of the Coach 2 passengers to move across to Coach 1, this is doomed to failure as the Coach 2 posse are all, like me, slim and elfin like, fit as fiddles and are constantly watching their waistlines. It seems like the extra weight from these cakes only succeeded in slowing down Coach 1's arrival at the Amex. There was however one main benefit of this cake stop as the proceeds all went to a cancer charity which was no bad thing, even if it did make all the passengers on Coach 1 that much fatter.

Now me and my coach buddy Ian help look after the far superior Coach 2 and it's true that we do not have picnic tables like the other much slower coach and we don't take the scenic route over Devils Dyke nor do we have regular cake stops I'm afraid but we were the first coach to park up at the Amex coach park last Saturday. I would like it to be known that from this point on our passengers on Coach 2 are formally invited to bring along prawn sandwiches, cakes and biscuits to share on board with their coach buddies if they so desire. We really don't have time for 'cake stops' on board Mister Speedy.

I look forward to seeing all my NWSS buddies on 14th September for the Friday evening home game against Sheffield Wednesday. Coach 1 is perhaps best advised to start it's journey on Thursday if it intends to do a weekly shop at Tesco's for all it's passengers on the way down to the Amex!

Saturday 25 August 2012

It's High Fives at the Amex

Albion 5, Barnsley 1
Championship, Amex Stadium
Saturday 25th August

Three games into the new season and Albion finally hit form as they smashed five goals past an inept Barnsley side. It's true that Barnsley had many first team regulars missing so they were fielding a weakened side but you still have to beat whatever is put in front of you and Albion certainly did that this afternoon in front of a 25,000 crowd at the newly expanded Amex.

It became apparent as early as the third minute when Ashley Barnes capitalised on a horrendous bit of ball fumbling by the Barnsley keeper Gonzalez that there was only going to be one outcome in this game, it was just a case of how many goals the Seagulls were going to score. For once Albion went for the jugular and didn't let up for the entire 90 minutes. Goals from the very impressive Wayne Bridge (another bit of poor goalkeeping), a rewarding brace from the hard working man of the match Craig Mackail-Smith and finally another from Ashley Barnes in the 81st minute capped off a wonderful and powerful footballing display by the Albion.

Albion seem to have found a formula that works with the new defensive back line particularly impressive. Albion now have a decent goalkeeper at long last in Kuszczak and for me the best player on the pitch was once again Wayne Bridge who oozed class at left back. The skillful adventurous right back Bruno seemed to be absolutely everywhere, except right back. Mind you, he didn't need to be defending too deeply as the reds offered very little threat. The 35th penalty awarded to Barnsley for a trip by Andrew Crofts on Jacob Mellis was fair and temporarily bought the visitors back into the game at 2-1. This proved to be just a minor blip however as Albion immediately cruised straight down the other end for Mackail-Smith to score a third to make it 3-1.

The second half started as the first ended with Albion being absolutely dominant and threatening to score more goals. When the lively Craig Noone was replaced by the speedy Kasenga Lua Lua the afternoon did not get any easier for the Barnsley defence, he tore the left back to shreds on more than one occasion  The midfield and attack were rampant and believe me when I tell you that the final scoreline did not flatter them. Albion could have had seven or eight goals on an afternoon when everything went right for them. I wondered if Brighton would miss the creativity in midfield of the absent and somewhat injury prone Vicente, but they did not.

It's always best to keep things in perspective and let's be honest this was a poor and weakened Barnsley side, there will no doubt be teams in this division who pose much more of a threat. Sadly I think the Yorkshire side will struggle this season unless they can get their first eleven fully fit soon and buy some much needed additions to a squad that, on this showing, desperately needs it. Things are looking much better for the Albion though and if they continue to show this kind of form then they will be looking to challenge for a play off place at the end of what is a very long season. As they say, it's a marathon not a sprint and there will no  doubt be twists and turns along the way but one thing's for sure, life is never dull with Gus Poyet around.

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

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Michel Kuipers...The Former Dutch Marine

Photo courtesy of
Albion 1, Reading 1
Michel Kuipers Testimonial
Amex Stadium, 7th August

The Amex finally welcomed former Albion goalkeeping legend Michel Kuipers into the Brighton goal one last time for his testimonial match. He served the club for over 10 years at the Withdean Stadium before moving on to Crawley Town in 2011 where he is now goalkeeping coach. The big former Dutch marine has long been a favourite with the Albion fans and wearing number 287 on his back, the number of appearances he made for the Seagulls, he strode onto the Amex pitch for the first time with son Duke through a guard of honour to rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the Albion faithful.

Both Albion and Reading had strong line ups for this encounter and although a friendly it proved to be a hard fought contest between the Championship side and the Premiership new boys. Kuipers was in goal for the first 15 minutes of the match and every time he touched the ball it was greeted with cheers. He made at least one outstanding save to cries of “Sign him up, sign him up, sign him up” from the North Stand fans. In a pre-planned substitution Albion’s recent signing Tomasz Kuszczak took over in goal for the remainder of the match and as Michel Kuipers walked away from the Brighton goalmouth for one last final time the crowd were up on their feet yet again to applaud him off in what must have been quite an emotional moment for him.

The match itself was reasonably competitive considering it was a pre-season friendly and Albion acquitted themselves very well against new Premiership opposition. They dominated for periods of the first half and yet again it was the creative and talented Vicente who shone. When Ashley Barnes was tripped in the area it was Vicente who buried the ball in the bottom left hand corner to send Albion ahead just after the half hour mark. Albion’s new Spanish right back Bruno was outstanding and although under pressure at times the Brighton defence looked pretty solid. The second half saw Vicente leave the pitch and so went the creativity with him. Reading capitalised on this, gained more possession and Robson-Kanu scored an 89th minute headed equaliser.  A draw was probably just about the right result but the match was almost of secondary importance on a night that was a well deserved tribute and thank you to Michel Kuipers, a faithful servant to the club who has earned the respect and admiration of Seagulls fans everywhere.

For a full match report go to the official Seagulls web site here.

Michel Kuipers and son Duke
Photo courtesy of

Saturday 4 August 2012

Are Seagulls The New European Champions?

Albion 3, Chelsea 1 
4th August 2012, Amex Stadium
Pre-season friendly

Well, who would have thought that Albion would beat the European Champions 3-1? Certainly not the Chelsea fan sitting next to me on the NWSS coach to the Amex today (apologies to my brother Steve). Albion fielded three recent new signings including Andrew Crofts who brought extra bite to the midfield and yet another Spanish recruit, Bruno, who showed real class at right back. Vicente was majestic in the Brighton midfield and clearly deserved his player of the match award while Ashley Barnes worked his socks off as usual up front. 

The whole team played their usual passing game against a full strength Chelsea side and whilst under pressure for long periods Albion always looked in control and played well defensively. England midfielder Lampard scored a classy opener for Chelsea after a sloppy pass from Albion centre half Lewis Dunk but superb counter attacking from Brighton produced three excellent goals from Vicente, Barnes and the returning Crofts. Although only a pre-season friendly Albion produced an impressive footballing display on the field of play against a top Premiership side and European champions to boot, if that desire and form is maintained then we could have quite an interesting season ahead of us in the Championship. An unbelievable result that now makes Brighton & Hove Albion the kings of Europe I assume?

The camera never lies

Tuesday 26 June 2012

BBC South Today Drop Albion Coverage

An astonishing BBC email has been leaked that outlines proposed changes to Albion's football coverage on BBC television. It transpires that plans are in place to exclude all of Brighton & Hove Albion's football and news coverage from the prime time BBC regional local news programme BBC South Today. By all means let's have additional Albion coverage on BBC South East Today, but not at the expense of losing coverage on BBC South Today. If anything we want more Albion TV coverage in Sussex, not less. North West Sussex Seagulls, the Horsham based Albion supporters club, have responded by writing the following letter of complaint to the BBC.

Dear BBC South Today,

As a Horsham based Brighton & Hove Albion supporters club (North West Sussex Seagulls) with over 200 members we are appalled at the recent leaked document outlining the BBC’s intention to suddenly stop giving any television coverage on BBC South Today of the Albion. We understand that there will be no Albion match reports or previews shown on sports bulletins in West Sussex from August. Instead, viewers in towns including Worthing, Crawley, Horsham and Haywards Heath will only see highlights from games involving Reading, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Aldershot. Historically BBC South Today has always shown coverage of Brighton & Hove Albion games but now it is to cease, this is truly astonishing.

The reason given for this decision (or is it simply a cutback?) is that after the digital switchover in March, households in Brighton and Hove and east of the River Adur will now watch BBC South East Today, which will continue to show Albion highlights. You may be interested to know that many Albion fans from West and East Sussex watch BBC South Today from satellite broadcaster Sky and many also watch from terrestrial TV on the Midhurst transmitter, both of which offer BBC South as the default BBC station. We like BBC South Today, we like Sally Taylor and we like the football coverage previously offered. We don’t want to watch BBC South East Today as that tends to have more of a Kent bias in our view rather than Sussex, indeed many of us in Sussex are unable to get the BBC South East Today regional programme anyway due to the TV transmitter we are picking up from.  We expect to see the BBC provide us with coverage of our local football team on our local BBC television channel, and that channel in many cases is BBC South Today, not BBC South East Today.

It may come as a shock to you but most Brighton fans live outside of the city of Brighton with the majority of Albion fans coming from a wider Sussex based area, both in the west and east of the county. By restricting coverage of Albion’s matches to solely BBC South East Today you are depriving many licence fee paying Albion fans from seeing their Sussex team on a local BBC television channel. We are assuming that BBC South Today will still cover news events and cricket in Sussex, if so, then why not Sussex football news, including the Albion?

This decision to cut coverage of the Albion is outrageous and as a consequence there will be many thousands of Albion fans who will be deprived of seeing their team on a regional BBC television programme. By all means have additional coverage on BBC South East Today but not at the expense of losing coverage on BBC South Today. If anything we want more Albion TV coverage, not less. Whoever was responsible for making this ill judged decision should have a rethink and listen to what your viewers are saying. Please reconsider this proposed change to BBC South Today’s football coverage; it is not a good or popular idea. We’re not sure who gains from this but it’s certainly not us Seagulls fans.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Stonestreet (Chairman)
Mike Wilson (Secretary)
Ian Morris (Treasurer)


Saturday 23 June 2012

Albion To Play Champions League Winners

Brighton & Hove Albion have announced that they are to play a pre-season friendly match at the Amex against European Cup holders Chelsea on Saturday 4th August. Tickets go on sale to season ticket holders with 1050 loyalty points or more on 1st July at a cost of £30. Over 65's pay £20 and under 16's pay £15. More details can be found on the Albion website here.

Champions League winners Chelsea to visit the Amex

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Albion Get New Chief Executive

Albion's new Chief Executive Paul Barber
North West Sussex Seagulls chairman Andy Stonestreet and I attended a very good meeting at the Amex tonight where we were introduced to Albion's new Chief Executive Paul Barber. Executive Director Martin Perry and Head of Media & Communications Paul Camillin were also in attendance along with Alan Wares from Albion Roar, Paul Samrah, various other supporters groups and members from fellow Albion supporters clubs Mid Sussex Seagulls & Seagulls Over Burwash. It was a most informative and useful meeting and we were very pleased to be given the opportunity to meet and chat with Paul Barber who had only been in the job a couple of days. I was impressed that he wanted to meet up with some of the fans and supporters groups so early in his tenure.

Paul Barber and Martin Perry gave us all a very warm and friendly welcome and they both mingled with fans and supporters groups beforehand, chatting and getting feedback on a range of issues. Paul Barber then introduced himself and gave a talk on what he sees as his role within the club and the direction it's moving in, along with his aims for the future. An interesting Q&A session followed where fans got the opportunity to ask Paul some questions and express their views.

I do hope more of these supporters club meetings are planned for the future as it's a really good way for the football club and the CEO to keep in direct touch with its fans and for the local supporters clubs to give feedback to the Albion. It's also a useful way for the Albion's directors to communicate their ideas and possible future plans to the fans. These meetings just serve to reinforce the already strong ties that exist between the fans and the Albion board and will hopefully enable everyone to move along together in the same direction. Long may it continue. 

Thursday 26 April 2012

Seagulls Flock To Support Sparrows

Champions! Sparrows Under 12's Girls
Horsham based North West Sussex Seagulls a Brighton & Hove Albion supporters club last Sunday handed over a cheque for £400 to Karl Pople, Chairman of Horsham Sparrows football club for kit sponsorship of the under 12s girls team.

Formed last summer, the North West Sussex Seagulls is run by fans for fans and offers a convenient way for Albion supporters to get from Horsham, Southwater, Billingshurst, Partridge Green, Cowfold and Henfield to the American Express Community stadium at Falmer and they have run more than 40 coaches to home games as well as several to away games. The club which holds regular club meetings and events is run as a ‘not for profit’ organisation and is keen to assist local sporting groups, particularly one’s that offer children the opportunity to play sports.
NWSS co-founder Andy Stonestreet together with other club members were present at the Holbrook Club in Horsham to watch league champions  Horsham Sparrows under 12 girls also pick up the league challenge cup after beating Mile Oak Wanderers 3 -1 in a thrilling final. As he handed over the sponsorship cheque Andy said “We have a couple of Horsham Sparrows players who regularly travel with us on our coaches and it’s great to be able to support kids who enjoy their sport in this way”.
The NWSS are currently taking season ticket bookings for their two coaches for next season. More details about their fares and routes can be found at or by contacting Andy Stonestreet on 07738 085752.
North West Sussex Seagulls
Coach season tickets for 2012-13

NWSS first trip to the Amex - 30th July 2012

North West Sussex Seagulls was formed in July 2011 with the main objective being to transport Horsham based Brighton & Hove Albion fans to the club’s new home in Falmer at an affordable cost. The American Express Community Stadium has proved to be a big draw and has over 18,000 season ticket holders, many of whom live in the Horsham district. With Albion putting in a further 8,250 seats NWSS expect to see even more demand for coach seats from fans living in the local area. With this in mind NWSS have just released their coach seat prices for the 2012/13 football season. Coach seats are available on an ad-hoc basis but regular match goers should consider buying a coach season ticket as this is certainly the most economical way to travel to the Amex on match days.  Concessions are available for under 16’s and over 60’s.

Albion adopted a strong 'green' policy when they applied for planning permission to build their new stadium and have been encouraging as many fans as possible to get to and from the Amex by using environmentally sustainable public transport like buses, coaches and trains rather than polluting and clogging up Sussex roads with lots of cars. NWSS have transported over 1,700 fans to the Amex this season from Horsham, Southwater, Cowfold and Henfield. That's probably saved around 600 car journeys which have been replaced by 40 coaches which is very impressive. They have also laid on a second coach to accommodate Albion fans from the Billingshurst area. You could say that NWSS are very ‘green’ blue & white fans.
NWSS are an independent supporters club who organise their own low cost match day transport using Arun Coaches and are run by fans for the fans. They are a non profit making organisation and as a consequence can offer transport to the Amex from as little as £4.50 return.
They have made a donation to Albion In The Community, a charity scheme run by Brighton & Hove Albion FC for the benefit of Sussex based people who need help in all sorts of areas including adult education and employment. In addition NWSS has recently agreed to sponsor the Horsham Sparrows F C Under 12 girls side for the 2012/13 season as part of their commitment to support local youth and sport organisations as and when they have a surplus of funds and their aim is to be able to support other worthy causes over the coming years.
NWSS can be contacted by emailing or you can telephone founding member Andy Stonestreet on 07738 085752. Alternatively find more information on the club website at

Wednesday 7 March 2012

The Late, Late Show

Albion 2, Cardiff 2
Wed 7th March, Amex Stadium

Albion had 80% possession in the first half but went in 0-0 at half time. Then Cardiff went ahead when Mason scored, 0-1. Brighton manager Gus Poyet immediately made a triple substitution to give Albion a bit of needed width by bringing on Craig Noone and Will Buckley (a good move). Ashley Barnes then equalised for Albion, 1-1. Two minutes later Cardiff's Whittingham scored a cracker with a brilliant volley from outside the box after Brezovan had punched the ball away, 1-2. Albion continued to press Cardiff in a search for the equaliser and were finally rewarded for all their hard work in the 89th minute when Sam Vokes put away a late, late goal. Final score: 2-2. Good game, good game. There you have it in a nutshell.

Albion seem to have a habit of scoring late goals and their desire to never give up is admirable. Although a win would have seen Albion move into 5th place and up into the play off play off places I think most Brighton fans went home happy to take the draw. Cardiff set out their stall early, were well organised and proved tough to break down at the back. The 2-2 scoreline probably satisfied Cardiff more than Brighton but the Sussex club are still unbeaten in the league in 2012. An average of two points a game for the final games of the season may prove to be enough to see Albion get a play off place but it's not a particularly easy run in as they face most of the top teams in the Championship. Exciting and nervy times ahead.

Friday 2 March 2012

Home At Last!

Here’s a great YouTube video clip. From the historic Goldstone, through roofless Withdean to the magnificent Amex. Look out for that magical Stuart Storer moment, the last and most important goal ever scored at the Goldstone. Oh, and remember those thousands & thousands of Amex flags last August? Wow, what a fantastic and memorable day that was, it brings a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye just thinking about it. Brighton & Hove Albion...home at last. It's been emotional.

Monday 20 February 2012

Albion Hit For Six!

Liverpool 6, Albion 1
FA Cup 5th Round, Anfield
Sunday 19th February 2012

Gus Poyet said after this match that it was a reality check for the team and the fans. He’s not wrong. Not many teams can say they went to Anfield, scored four goals and came away with a 6-1 defeat. Three own goals, some absolutely outstanding classy play from Liverpool, in particular from Steven Gerrard and the lively Luis Suarez who was everywhere, saw off Albion’s attempt to reach the quarter finals for the first time since 1983. Not many teams could have lived with Liverpool when they play like this, they passed and moved so quickly and had a real quality about them. Albion tried to play their usual passing game but there was a distinct lack of movement and quality, which was the difference between these two sides. This is the first time I’ve seen my team concede six goals and whilst it was not a pleasurable experience you could not help but admire the way that Liverpool played. At times rampant and unstoppable their second half performance was outstanding and Albion just couldn’t live with them.

For the first forty two minutes it looked like Brighton might get something out of the game. Albion went 1-0 down within five minutes of the start after Martin Skrtel headed in from Steven Gerrard’s corner. The Seagull defenders seemed to be too busy looking after the imposing figure of Andy Carroll in the penalty area to notice the glancing header from the Slovakian. Having suffered that early setback, which is just what Albion didn’t need, they bravely fought their way back into the game with some patient build up play and played their passing game quite effectively at times. They got their just reward when on 17 minutes Albion were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Liverpool area. Up stepped Kasenga Lua Lua who thumped home a shot of such ferocity that Pepe Reina couldn’t hold on to it. A brilliant goal that seemed to me like a carbon copy of the late goal he scored against Millwall in the 2-2 draw at the Amex last Tuesday night. Game on and the Albion fans were in full voice cheering their team on towards half time. A terrific goal line clearance from Inigo Calderon convinced the Seagulls fans that maybe, just maybe, we could get something out of this game. Just when it looked as if a 1-1 half time score line was imminent we saw the first of what were to be many defensive mix ups that resulted in a bizarre own goal from Liam Bridcutt. Heartbreak for Albion so late in the half but still not a disaster, little did Albion and their fans know what was to follow.

Craig Noone was brought on for the ineffective Will Buckley at the start of the second half for Albion but Liverpool stepped up a gear and every time they were awarded a free kick or corner you could sense the anxiety in the Albion defence. Albion fans held their heads in their hands for much of the second half as the onslaught continued. A goal from Carroll, two more bizarre own goals from Bridcutt and Dunk and one more from Suarez finally killed off the game leaving Albion and their fans begging for the final whistle. Liverpool even had the luxury of a missed Suarez penalty as Peter Brezovan in the Albion goal did brilliantly to save the spot kick and prevent further humiliation.

Although well beaten I felt that the score line in a strange way flattered Liverpool just a little, after all three own goals had never been seen in the FA Cup before and to their credit the Seagulls did continue to try and play their passing football game, not convinced that shutting up shop and conceding defeat was an option. Albion had a ‘may as well get hung for a pig as for a lamb’ mentality which I liked. Outplayed and outclassed? Yes. Lessons learned? Yes, for sure. This game showed how large a gulf there is between a newly promoted and ambitious Championship side and a top six Premiership side. If we had played as well as we know we can and Liverpool had an off day then perhaps Albion might have got something out of this game. It wasn’t to be and you have to acknowledge that the best team on the day won.
Despite the game and it’s result the Albion fans were absolutely magnificent throughout and didn't stop singing all afternoon, I was proud to be there and to be one of them. Even though we got narrowly beaten in a very tight game (well that's how I choose to remember it) we still managed to have a good laugh on the NWSS coach on our way home. It was certainly a day to remember in more ways than one. A big thank you to Andy at NWSS for organising the coach for yesterday's trip to Anfield. Thanks also go to drivers Hugo & Clive who got us there and back safely despite spending most of the return trip trying to overtake the Albion team bus along the M40. We managed to finally overtake the team bus with a window wave from the Albion defenders but I somehow suspect it wasn't the first time that day that the back four had been passed with ease.
A decent cup run comes to an end. It's been emotional.

Friday 17 February 2012

Liverpool Here We Come!

Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion
FA Cup 5th Round
Anfield, Sunday 19th February 2012

6,000 Albion fans will be heading north towards Liverpool this Sunday as Brighton & Hove Albion take on the might of Premiership side Liverpool in the 5th round of the FA Cup. It's a dream tie for the Seagulls and their followers who are hoping for a repeat of the 1983 cup run that saw Albion reach the final itself.

With a near fully fit squad plus two recent new loan signings from Manchester City (Abdul Razak & Gui Assulin) to choose from it will be very interesting to see which eleven players manager Gus Poyet picks for his starting team. Fortunately FA Cup rules allow seven substitutes rather then the usual five that are allowed for normal league games so Gus will be able to have some decent players sitting on the bench. I cannot predict his team selection, even the ever present Craig Mackail Smith has lost out in the last couple of games. Liam Bridcutt and captain Gordon Greer will surely start and the prolific Will Buckley must be considered but after that it's anyone's guess. The manager has such strength in depth now that it makes his team selection a double edged sword. He has an abundance of choice but some players will no doubt feel very disappointed and unhappy at missing out on such a big match, especially if it's scousers Alan Navarro and Craig Noone.

This is probably the biggest cup game in years for Albion and the fans cannot wait to get up there. It's going to be a massive day with brilliant atmosphere and all the Brighton fans will be decked out in their favourite Blue & White colours for a terrific afternoon. I only hope that the team play as well as they can and put up a decent performance, if they do play at their best then who knows what can happen. That's the magic of the FA Cup. 

I'll be travelling up on the North West Sussex Seagulls coach with my usual coach buddies and we are so looking forward to a big day out. My Albion scarf, shirt and lucky pants have all been washed and are laid out ready for the big day, match ticket has been purchased and the coach seat booked. Yep, I'm definitely ready. Anfield here we come.

Friday 10 February 2012

I Know That Voice

Paul Carrack In Concert
Theatre Royal
Tuesday 31st January, 2012
Only I could manage to buy a ticket for a concert on the same day that Albion play away at arch rivals Crystal Palace. That match ended in a 1-1 bore draw but this concert was far more entertaining. A well packed Theatre Royal welcomed Paul Carrack and his band of musicians to Brighton.

Whilst Paul Carrack may not yet be a household name his voice and songs are instantly recognisable. Whilst he is a solo artist he has also had spells in bands such as Ace, Squeeze and more recently as lead singer in the excellent Mike & The Mechanics. He's written and collaborated for artists such as the Eagles and been a session musician for many bands including The Smiths and The Pretenders. He has a voice that is distinctly unique, its so rich, soulful and expressive. 

Paul Carrack is an extraordinarily talented songwriter and a gifted musician, a real find for those that haven't seen or heard him before. It doesn't matter if he is singing up tempo soulful dance music with saxophone sitting beautifully in the background or performing a heartbreaking ballad, he sings with such consummate ease and plays keyboard and guitars in the same exemplary fashion. 

During this concert we heard some classic songs such as The Living Years, How Long, Tempted, Another Cup Of Coffee, Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying, an achingly beautiful Eyes Of Blue, Love Will Keep Us Alive, Looking Back Over My Shoulder and What's Going On. All great songs, really well played and sung.

If you haven't got any Paul Carrack in your music collection you should be ashamed. Go out and borrow a CD from your local library or buy some of his music from your online store right now. Believe me, you won't regret it.

Set list:
It Ain’t Over
Just A Little Lie
Another Cup Of Coffee
I Don’t Want To Hear Anymore
Better Than Nothing
Long Ago
Love Will Keep Us Alive
I’m Gonna Make It Right For You
Without You
Eyes Of Blue
Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying
The Living Years
Every Time That You Walk In The Room
That Girl Of Mine
Time To Move On
How Long
Looking Back Over My Shoulder
What’s Going On

Sunday 15 January 2012

Albion Sizzle Against Brizzle

Albion 2, Bristol City 0: Amex Stadium
Saturday 14th January 2012

Inigo Claderon celebrates his stunning goal for Albion
Albion’s recent run of good form continues, after beating the league leaders Southampton 3-0 last time out they secured yet another valuable 3 points against a very predictable and rather disappointing Bristol City side at the Amex today. The Brighton first team squad is looking very thin on numbers at present due to suspensions and injuries which was a bit of a concern with many Albion supporters before the match. There are currently four players out with hamstring injuries when last season we had none. The club are investigating this and there is some suggestion that the Amex pitch may possibly be responsible for these injuries but nobody really knows if this is the case. However the returning Lewis Dunk to centre half alongside the ever reliable Adam El Abd with Inigo Calderon and Romain Vincelot as full backs gave Albion a solid looking back line. As it turned out they were never put under any real test from a very weak looking City side.

Yet another 20,000 plus attendance saw an absolutely brilliant goal from skipper Inigo Calderon in the first half from fully 25 yards. At first I thought that the forward thinking defender was intending to cross the ball into the box but it was clear from television replays later that he fully meant to shoot at goal, it was a simply stunning strike that gave the experienced David James in the City goal no chance.  Matt Sparrow and man of the match Liam Bridcutt were outstanding in the midfield areas with the lively Will Buckley looking a threat out wide. The Seagulls dominated for most of the game and it was no real surprise when the quick paced Buckley sneaked in late on to get Albion a second goal which killed off the game. City had only one shot on target that I can remember and that was literally the last kick of the game from a set piece which Albion keep Peter Brezovan comfortably saved.

The Seagulls now move up to 12th in the Championship table but are only four points away from the sixth place play off place, this is proving to be a really tight league where anyone can beat anyone. The only sour note for the Albion was on the injury front, yet again. This time it was Craig Mackail-Smith who went off with a really nasty looking eye injury in the first half followed a few minutes later by the ever improving young midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey who suffered a dead leg. We await news on both as Albion visit Wrexham on Tuesday for the 3rd Round FA Cup replay. It looks like some of the young development squad players may well be involved for that game. If victorious against Conference league leaders Wrexham then Albion face a fascinating and mouth-watering 4th round tie at the Amex on 28th January against Premiership side Newcastle. The Seagulls also face arch rivals Crystal Palace in the league at Selhurst Park on 31st January so it could be an interesting few weeks coming up.

Blimey, what a shiner CMS has!