Sunday 4 August 2013

NWSS Make Donation To Pool Fund

Horsham based Brighton & Hove Albion supporters club North West Sussex Seagulls have made a £200 donation to a Cowfold school swimming pool fund. Members of the supporters club attended St Peters CE Primary School on Wednesday 17th July to present a cheque to Chair of Governors Eileen Precious and school head Giles Kolter. Eileen Precious explained that the swimming pool is a village community pool and was built in memory of village lads who sadly drowned in the sea some years ago, the idea being that all village children should learn to swim. It is used for lessons and clubs for the school children and is open to the public for some of the summer holidays. Although a charge is made for use of the pool this does not cover the cost of running it and the school relies on fundraising and donations to make up the shortfall. The school runs the pool but does not contribute financially from the school budget to its upkeep so any donation is gratefully received.

Mike Wilson on behalf of NWSS said that they were delighted to be able to make a donation to the Cowfold community swimming pool fund and praised the school’s contribution in encouraging all children in the village to learn how to swim. Raising awareness to fund this important local facility is crucial in being able to keep it a part of the local community and the school. NWSS supporters club is a non-profit making organisation and any surplus funds left over at the end of a football season are donated to local charities and organisations, with a particular emphasis on youth activities. On match days NWSS transports over 100 Albion fans in two coaches to the Amex Stadium from Roffey, Horsham, Southwater, Cowfold & Henfield.

More information on St Peters School and NWSS can be found on their websites at and 

Friday 2 August 2013

Really Nice Folks

Cambridge Folk Festival
Thursday 25th - Sunday 28th July, 2013

That's the Cambridge Folk Festival done and it was great to hear some new music to melt my ears. So much stuff to listen to over the four days and the weather was gloriously hot & sunny (apart from Saturday evening when we had lots of warm rain). Highlights of the festival for me were Irish songstress Heidi Talbot, Brighton band The Levellers, K T Tunstall, The Staves, LAPD, Katherine Roberts & Sean Lakeman, guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, female duo Larkin Poe (the wife loved them) and Lucy Rose. Although not musically my cup of tea the most entertaining live act were The Bombay Royale. You probably wouldn't have liked all the music on show but there was, without doubt, something for everyone.

The festival is more than just music though, there's all sorts of entertainment from Morris Dancers to poetry and there's also plenty of workshops if you wanted them. There were two main stages with two other tents for the up and coming artists, with particular emphasis on young musicians. The food choices were enormous and not too overpriced and the bars had a reasonable selection of real ales and cider to choose from. Lots of traditional craft and vintage clothes stalls were on show, as well as the obligatory merchandise tent. There was a wi-fi area where you could hook up to the internet for free and even a place where you could charge up your mobile phone if you needed to (at a price). Toilet facilities were excellent and I never had to queue, unlike some of the ladies. The ages of people attending the festival ranged from the very young to the more mature music fan (like me I guess) so I felt right at home. Camping was available for those that wanted it and the on site camping facilities looked excellent. We did the easy option and opted for a very nice B&B three miles away at the Tudor Cottage Guest House. The park and ride worked like a dream and we didn't experience any hold ups at either end of the day, in fact it was a short 10 minute walk to the festival site so no need to take the bus really. It's the 50th Cambridge Folk Festival next year and I really hope that we can visit again in 2014 as we had such a great time for our first ever visit this year

Irish songstress Heidi Talbot with me and the missus (I'm on the left!)

A really good music festival that was so much more than just 'folk' music. The folk purists might throw their hands up in horror at the electrification of some of the acts who performed but folk now encompasses such a vast range of different types of genres. From the traditional Celtic roots, through Cajun, Blues, African and into the mainstream crossover with bands like Steeleye Span, Bellowhead, The Mavericks, K T Tunstall and The Levellers. I don't care what you call it, I just like it.

It's a beautiful day
Morris Dancers try to establish the location of the beer tent

Only at the Cambridge Folk Festival: I saw something for the first time ever in my 60 years of being on this planet - a tree wearing a knitted jumper pretending to be a message board. That is so cool.

A tree wearing a knitted jumper - so cool

Post your messages here

Friday 17 May 2013

It's A Car Crash Ending For The Gus Bus!

Thursday 16th May, 2013:

Wow, what a sensational day of events at Brighton & Hove Albion! So, the Gus Bus is pulling into the garage one last time before changing drivers. It's been a car crash day at BHAFC but I'm sure that all true Albion fans will back and support chairman Tony Bloom as he suspends manager Gus Poyet, assistant Mauricio Taricco and coach Charlie Oatway. Bloom doesn't deserve to see his club dragged into a mess that was not of his own making and if what I'm hearing about recent events at BHAFC are true then perhaps it is probably best if Poyet does leave the club.

It has to be said that the style of football under Gus Poyet was the most attractive and best I've ever seen in all the years I've been watching Albion. He gave the team's style of play, in his own words, an identity. We've had a successful reign under Gus but the downside was the manager didn't always know when to keep his mouth shut. We had his opinion on the Luis Suarez racist affair and how many times did we hear from Gus that one day he would manage Chelsea or Spurs or Leeds. For heaven’s sake Gus, you are manager of Brighton, the fans didn't want to hear this. His constant moaning about the player budget began to wear a little thin too, especially as we still managed to finish above Crystal Palace and only two places outside of automatic promotion to the Premiership which is not too bad at all in my view. There was definite progress in the last three years with promotion to the Championship two seasons ago, a 10th place finish last season and up to 4th place this season.

And then there was Monday night. He choose his post Palace match interview to again moan about the budget, spoke about hitting roofs and looking after his own interest. This was not the time or the place, the fans were raw after suffering a home defeat to their arch rivals in what was one of the most important matches in the club's history and that was all they cared about. It would appear that Gus had other things on his mind and just didn't appreciate what a great job he had at Brighton, any other manager would give their eye teeth to have a job like his. A full Amex at every home game, fans that adored you, a team playing beautiful football (at times), one of the best chairman in the football league (and English to boot) and a new training facility coming on stream next year. It's a great job for someone to walk into. The grass isn't always greener elsewhere and no one person is bigger than BHAFC as every Albion fan will tell you, it's not Team Gus it's Brighton & Hove Albion FC. We all knew Gus Poyet would leave one day but not like this, not in this crazy mess.

So we embark on a new era, with probably a new man at the helm and minus some key influential players. It's an opportunity for someone to come into this club and move it onwards and upwards. The financial fair play rules introduced for next season make it tough to compete financially against teams that are relegated from the Premier League with their millions of pounds in umbrella payments but us fans will support Albion no matter what happens in the future. We've come a long way in the last few years under first Dick Knight and now Tony Bloom and they will not jeopardise this clubs financial future because of one man's selfish ambition. They, like us, have a dream of Premiership football at the Amex one day and there's nothing wrong with that, us fans too have the same dream. I thought Gus shared that dream but it seems like he just didn't have the patience or bottle to see it out. It’s such a shame because it was a great journey before the car crash ending.

Saturday 20 April 2013

REMF - The Perfect Match

Albion Supporters 1, Palace Supporters 0
Friday 19th April
The Dripping Pan, Lewes

Wow! Over £4,200 raised at the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund (REMF) football match between Albion supporters and Palace supporters at Lewes last night. A brilliant effort. 

The memorial fund was set up in memory of Albion fan Robert Eaton who sadly lost his life in the terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York in 2001. This annual match between Seagulls and Eagles fans has helped raise funds for REMF and also highlights the goodwill and friendship that can be achieved by football fans of opposing clubs joining together in a common cause. Visit the REMF website here

Personal highlight of the evening for me? Well, I finally got to meet the legend that is Peter Ward. Grateful thanks go to the players that took part and the people behind the scenes at REMF that organise this annual event. Extra special thanks also to the fans of Crystal Palace and the gorgeous Crystals (yes, I'm a fan) for making the journey down and coming along in the true spirit of football to support such a worthy cause. So nice to see players and supporters of both clubs sitting next to each other, exchanging banter and having a really good time, without any sign of trouble. Genuine fans showing that football really can bring people closer together.

As the evening wore on it got pretty cold at the Dripping Pan (what a great name for a football ground) but the Crystals, who danced without music because the PA temporarily packed up, and a bloody great big fluffy mascot bird thing called Pete the Eagle, kept us entertained during the half time break. 

For those of you interested the Albion supporters won a close game 1-0. But perhaps on this one occasion in a match between Albion & Palace it wasn't the result that really mattered, it was the money raised for REMF that was more important. There's a nice review of the match from a Palace perspective here.

Oh, and did I mention that I finally got to meet the legend that is Peter Ward...and no 8 is Peter Ward, and no 9 is Peter Ward, and no 10 is....

Celebrations after last year's REMF match

Saturday 6 April 2013

Read All About It

Emeli Sandé In Concert
Brighton Dome
Friday 5th April 2013

Emeli Sandé was simply brilliant at a sold out Dome tonight. What a powerful voice and such great songs. Performing mostly material from her debut album 'Our Version Of Events' I particularly liked 'Clown' and 'Read All About It'. Highlight of the show for me though was her achingly sad and emotional version of 'Suitcase' which was re-worked simply with just her voice and a bass guitar, a very moving and touching rendition. Every song she sang was a winner and I thought she looked a little bit more comfortable sitting at her piano rather than on her feet with her sometimes slightly awkward stage presence but this lady put her heart, body and soul into every word she sang, she meant every line of every song. Wonderful to see and hear. Emeli Sandé is a really talented vocalist and songwriter and I for one can't wait to hear her next album. This was the best female vocal performance I've seen in years.

The support act, Jacob Banks, was also very good. He's not a name that I was familiar with until tonight but this talented 21 year old soul singer from Birmingham proved himself to be an excellent vocalist with a real rich soulful voice and although relatively new to the music scene it may well be worth exploring his music further. A pleasant and welcome surprise.  

Also a special mention here for the fabulous Brighton Dome, without doubt this has to be one of the best concert halls outside of London. The drinks might be a bit pricey but it's a classy venue for a classy act. A great night out.

Emeli's debut album Our Version Of Events

Tuesday 26 March 2013

The Promised Land?

Gus Poyet, praying for promotion with Brighton or pastures new?
The Albion rumour mill swung into overdrive last week with news that Gus Poyet had apparently been given permission to speak to Reading about their vacant managerial position. Twitter and other social media networks were awash with gossip that Gus was on the verge of leaving promotion chasing Brighton to join the relegation threatened Premiership outfit.  Both clubs remained tight lipped but there seemed very little doubt that Reading had made an approach to Poyet who could potentially have been the second Albion manager to leave and go to Reading following Steve Coppell’s departure in 2003.

It seemed that Poyet may well have been interested enough to see what was on offer at Reading and rumour has it that his advisors were at an advanced stage in negotiating a possible move. After giving his position further consideration however, the Brighton manager then decided, for the time being at least, his immediate future lies with the Seagulls rather than the Royals. Brighton fans breathed a huge sigh of relief and Reading moved quickly to appoint former Saints manager Nigel Adkins on Tuesday.

It is inevitable that Gus will eventually leave Albion at some point but a move to Reading now would have been at best a sideways move. However, he must have been tempted by the potential £30 million umbrella payment that Reading would benefit from should they, as seems likely, get relegated from the Premiership. That financial windfall could allow any potential new manager to build a team and buy their way back to the Premiership with a huge transfer kitty that very few Championship clubs could match.

The most worrying thing about all of this speculation for Albion fans was the timing. At the business end of the season with a play off place beckoning and with the final crucial seven games approaching is not a good time for any football club to be changing its manager. The prospect of Poyet leaving before he had achieved his goal of promotion to the Premiership with Brighton may well have been a factor in him deciding to stay. The other major concern fans had was if Poyet did leave would he then come back in the close season in an attempt to sign several out of contract key Albion players. All rather alarming to fans and unsettling for players, especially the Spanish contingent. 

Why would Gus want to leave? Albion is a club going places in a fantastic stadium with a new training facility coming on stream next summer. He has fans who adore his style of football as well as players who want to play for him, a board who support him and an English chairman who won’t sack him if he has a bad run of results. Sadly, it could all be down to money. Gus is ambitious and wants a playing budget that will enable him and the club to gain the success they desire. The Holy Grail of the Premiership seems to be the Promised Land but it can break and bury a club as much as it can lead to riches, fans of League One Portsmouth FC will tell you that. 

Thursday 21 March 2013

Probation Officers Face Social Media Gag As Outsourcing Row Rumbles On

As reported in The Guardian on Thursday 21st March 2013: 
"Justice secretary tells staff they risk disciplinary action if they publicly 'undermine' plan to outsource their work with offenders".

To read the full article in The Guardian please click here.

Thank you and well done to The Guardian for highlighting this issue and bringing it to the public's attention. It's astonishing. Are we living in a police state or a democracy? Chris Grayling and Michael Gove should be ashamed of their bully boy tactics. Are people not allowed to voice an opinion or express a view on government policies now? Whatever happened to freedom of speech and what exactly are government ministers afraid of? Threatening to suspend or even sack staff for daring to question the path the government are going down is not the answer and it renders all talk of a 'consultation process' utterly meaningless. 

Putting a gag on Probation Officers opinions of government plans to effectively privatise 70% of the probation service is no way to have an open and honest debate on the subject. Is it? Probation Officers know what they're talking about, they know the service and are properly trained in dealing with offenders in an effective way. Government ministers would be well advised to listen carefully to what they have to say before rushing into making decisions about reforming the Probation Service. 

From my own personal viewpoint, and I stress that it is just my own viewpoint (if I'm allowed to have an opinion that is), it could look as if these reforms are being introduced primarily as a cost saving measure with management of offenders being left in the hands of well meaning but ultimately unskilled and untrained people rather than trained professionals as it is at present. I see no obvious benefits to either society or offenders. Payment by results is it? Well, just remember one thing: You get what you pay for and there will be no going back once you reduce the size of the Probation Service as drastically as is being proposed. If re-offending increases and the public are put at risk as a direct result of these proposed changes to the Probation Service then someone in government will be answerable, no one else. Sadly it may be too late as the government seem to have already made their minds up that this is the path they wish to run down, irrespective of what comes out of any consultation process.

Is privatisation the answer? I seem to remember that privatising security at the 2012 London Olympics wasn't too successful so maybe there's a lesson to be learned there. 

Rant over.

Sunday 17 March 2013

The Perfect Sunday

Albion 3, Crystal Palace 0
Amex Stadium
Sunday 17th March 2013

Spanish Dave
Oh my, what a fantastic match and the perfect result for Albion fans. The Amex experience started off well enough with a delicious breakfast pie and pint of Harvey's but little did I know that things were just about to get a whole lot better.

There was a record 28,499 attendance at the Amex for this eagerly awaited derby clash against arch rivals Palace. The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric and the noise when Leonardo Ulloa scored Albion's opener in the 43rd minute almost had the roof off. A second superb, stunning goal scored direct from a free kick by David Lopez (known as Spanish Dave to you and me) right on half time was enough to send 26,000 Albion fans into raptures and broke Palace hearts. The third goal scored again by centre forward Ulloa just after the break in the 49th minute was the icing on the cake and the game was won.

The Amex is made for days like this and the long 25 year wait for a home win against Crystal Palace was over. It's difficult to pick a man of the match as the entire team worked hard and showed a real desire to win this one for the fans. Ulloa won the man of the match award from the match sponsors but Kazenga Lua Lua and Wayne Bridge (who had Zaha in his pocket all afternoon) were particularly outstanding.

This was a very good day to be an Albion fan. The play off's are still a realistic possibility after this result and key games coming up against Forest and Leicester could prove crucial to Albion's promotion ambitions.