by Billy the Dog McGraw
Everyone wants to be there. Ian was trying to take his sons and meet up with the south coast part of his family. Stefan had the idea that he might be able to turn up at the ground and procure a ticket. Tony fancied it because the Brighton ground is built right next door to where he was a student (while simultaneously plotting for three years the overthrowing of the state).
But tickets were there none. And it isn’t even on TV. Hey ho.
In the old times, when people were worried about the far right political parties taking over football, there was a major enquiry into fascism and football. After deep consultation it was felt that despite being based in one of the most genteel towns in the country (Hove) there were major problems at the club, and so a commissioner was sent to do undercover work, and see how deeply fascist Brighton and Hove Albion had become.
At first the reports were negative, and so reference was made back to the sources who claimed that fascist chants of Sieg Heil! could be heard at every single home match. There was debate as to whether such chants were indeed fascist (the words actually mean “Hail Victory!”) but it was thought that yes such was their link with the Nazi Party in Germany, they were fascist, and they most certainly had been heard repeatedly at Brighton & Hove FC.
The commissioner returned to the south coast and spent more time among the locals. Eventually the old boy tumbled the problem. What had been heard was not Sieg Heil, but actually “Seagulls, Seagulls, Seagulls” – the lament used by supporters which repeated the nickname of the club.
Arsenal have two major associations with Brighton, as least as far as I can remember. The first is the fact (taken from memory) that we were their opponents in their first ever game in the first division. We won 4-0. The second is that from 1993 to 1995 Liam Brady was their manager. In other events, Brian Clough was their manager for a while, and they played in one cup final (the “And Smith must score” final) before playing at one of the worst football league grounds ever – the Withdean Stadium.
Actually on the Brian Clough issue Tony adds one other memory. Brighton clambered into the second division for the first time in their history, and played Middlesbrough who had a certain centre forward called Brian Clough. Middlesbrough won 6-4, and Clough scored quite a few (Tony doesn’t recall how many). But he was there, as a youngster, dreaming of the day his story might be used on the yet-to-be-invented internet.
Brighton and Hove Albion now play in Falmer – a village in the ancient District of Lewes where each November 5th there is a ceremony to burn the pope. I am not sure what Roman Catholics did to Lewes but the locals seem to be quite anxious to keep the tradition going.
A footbridge links the two parts of the village. In the south there is a pond (which gives the village its name) complete with ducks, surrounded by cottages and an ancient parish church. Also on site is a farm shop.
Just by the village are two universities – the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton, and the local council’s archive.
The American Express Community Stadium, is close by – but do please be aware that the stadium does not take American Express cards, for reasons that I have never been able to work out.
The stadium was handed over to the club on 31 May 2011 following a long battle for a new ground (planning permission was actually granted in 2002), which ended with John Prescott stepping into the mire and saying that yes, it could be done. And here’s a nice twist, the first ever league game at the Amex was against Doncaster Rovers, who were also the last opponents to play at the Goldstone Ground. The average attendance at the Amex is 20,000, but there is only parking for 2000 cars, mostly in the University of Sussex grounds.
As for the team here’s a possible line up
Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs;
Walcott, Giroud, Podolski
Rosicky is fit again and should be on the bench with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arteta and Coquelin are still out. Santos and Ramsey will certainly either be on the bench or in the team. Frimpong and Arshavin will make up the bench, I imagine.
One other possibility is that Jenkinson will get a run out – he has not had a chance to play for some time.
Brighton are 6th in the Championship after 28 games, eight points away from the second automatic promotion spot. They have a goal difference of +10. Their last match was a 1-1 away draw at Blackburn who are 14th. In the last four games they have three draws and a win.
So that’s it. If you are going, do remember they don’t play in Brighton. Or come to that, in Hove. The result: 3-1 to the Arsenal.
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