Tuesday 7 August 2012

Michel Kuipers...The Former Dutch Marine

Photo courtesy of www.seagulls.co.uk
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 www.seagulls.co.uk

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