Archive for July, 2011

Albion 2 – 3 Spurs

July 31, 2011

"Those Who Sow in Tears Shall Reap In Joy"

What a great day! I won’t bang on about the match itself, read the club website for that here, but I’d like to reflect on the whole day.

First off, getting a drink near Brighton station was hectic, but that might die down when the daytrippers etc disappear in the winter months. We ended up going to our old Withdean regular then getting a taxi over to Falmer, easy peasy Saint & Greavsie. Getting a beer in the bar under the East Stand was easy enough, and being a fat bastard I managed to taste both meat pies and a cheeseburger (I did say “taste”, as we like to share in our little commune). The Chicken pie was 9 out of 10, the beef 8 (bit dry) and the burger scored 7 out of 10.

The Spurs fans in the South Stand

The bevvy was good too, and even though the staff were stacking pints up after pulling them, they were still cold and fresh by the time you get to sup them. The Harveys didn’t look good in a wobbly plastic pint topped off with a Starbucks type coffee lid, but it tasted fine. The ale at £3.60 was twenty pence cheaper than draught lager, all a bit steep to be fair.

The corner bar at the west end of the North Stand

The stadium – the photos speak for themselves, and my decision to sit opposite the main stand was a good one, best view in the house with the mighty West Stand soaring over the whole scene. There was a feeling all around the ground that it wasn’t real, and after the wilderness years and especially just coming from Withdean, it’s all a bit much to take in for some folk, myself included. But the noise generated from the West and North Stand especially will surely help the team this coming season.

Peter Ward

Gordon Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting leg-ends Peter Ward and Gordon Smith in the Lower West bar after the game is surely a one-off event, although the leisurely Wardy is more likely to pop over from Florida to watch the team than Rangers FC Director of Football Smith travelling down from Glasgow. The affable Mr Ward was still on the shant down the town long after the match, as he was after the Brighton ‘Til I Die show at the Theatre Royal Thursday night. He genuinely loves the adulation he receives down Sussex way, and fair play to him.

I managed to jib the train home from Falmer, lots of hi-vis types with clipboards in and around the newly refurbished station monitoring crowd dispersal. The big gate at Brighton was left open to get fans out quickly without adding to the usual summer weekend congestion. My only thought here was “What will the polis do when there’s a few hundred Cardiff or Brum trying to get into town at the same time?” Could be interesting as the pub to street ratio around the station is higher than most towns in the UK.

West Stand Roof

So, after all that the verdict from this little corner of Hove is 99% positive (no such thing as perfection, is there?) and I am twisting my knickers in anticipation of the coming football season.

Heading home, satisfaction guaranteed

Brighton ‘Til I Die

July 25, 2011

Watching in a Wardy Wonderland

I nearly missed this one, forgot about it in all the build up to the first game at Falmer this Saturday against Spurs. I missed the original show first time round in 2001 (so thanks to R for reminding me it’s on again). The story of Albion’s history, as told through the eyes of two ordinary fans – from the highs of top flight football, through the wilderness years after the death of the Goldstone –  has been updated for 2011 now that the club has finally arrived at the promised land.

Tickets for both shows this Wednesday & Thursday night are still for sale online here, and probably at the Theatre Royal itself. Should be a good show, whetting the appetite for Saturday’s stadium opener. It’s a very exciting time to be an Albion fan at the minute.

Mogwai in Bexhill

July 24, 2011

Drift Racing Bexhill style

I was at the De La Warr Pavilion on Friday to watch Glaswegian post-rockers Mogwai. Friday evenings in Bexhill are a blast, the main attractions range from tripping over old dears driving their yappy little dogs on the seafront, window shopping the dozens of charity shops, and elbowing your way to the bar in various end-of-the-line pubs, full of aging alkys and thirsty brickies. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a melancholic attractiveness to the place, but Bexhill puts the sleep in sleepy, and for all these reasons it’s the perfect setting for a Mogwai gig.

Mogwai don’t sing much, and their fans ‘sway’ in the area where a mosh-pit would be for more ‘lively’ acts, so they’re more of an acquired taste. I got told to “Ssssh, do you mind?” by one disciple, for the crime of talking over yet another quiet/slow period during one of their quiet/slow/fast/loud tunes. I’ve been gigging since the 1980s, I’ve never been told to keep it down before, hilarious.

The gig itself was oddly uplifting, but I think this group of extremely gifted musicians would be lost as a live act without their video backdrops, of which my camerawork doesn’t do justice; some of them were achingly beautiful, if sombre, but a perfect foil for the music.

It was a good gig, the pavilion is a great venue acoustically, and Mogwai are worth seeing, just don’t expect to leave the venue tired and drenched in sweat.

Move along…

July 21, 2011

…there’s nothing to see here. What was that all about? The North Stand Chat harakiri has been reversed. For those of you who missed Naylor’s very odd piece, here it is:

A couple of points:

Remember the last ‘official’ person to tell Albion fans to “stop whining”?

Hello sexy

Only a few fans moaned when the team didn’t resort to hoofball against Bournemouth, from where I was sitting (Block H) they were told to shut the fuck up.

Naylor has since said that he was refering to:

“Article was, in fact, inspired by comments on The Argus website”

(@AndyNaylorArgus).

Then why did he say:

“Before the age of the internet, the vehicle for fans to release all their pent-up anger from the frustrations of life was on a Saturday afternoon. Now they can do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via websites” ??

Anyone with half a brain knows that NSC is one of those websites, not only that, it’s the biggest forum for BHAFC fans’ views. Mmmm.

Lastly, fans pay their money, and buy the overpriced shit in the club shop, they have earned the right to “whine”, Mr Naylor gets paid to sit and watch the team. Go figure.

A casual buy no. 39

July 20, 2011

Even though the summer’s been shite, it’s still a bit too warm of an evening to go out in a coat, while venturing out in only shirt sleeves can leave you distinctly chilly, unless you have a beer jacket on. The solution? A hoodie. A pullover would probably do the same job, but when I wear my jumpers I don’t want to be pulling them off and on all night. Therefore, a zip-front hoodie is ideal.

The humble hooded sweatshirt has been much-maligned as the garment of choice for working class kids (I’ll not mention ‘chavs’ as it’s a word I’ve grown to despise, mostly since reading this book and recognising how derogatory it is to members of my own class). The tabloid image of feral gangs of hoodie-lums terrorising old people on ‘sink estates’ is the stuff of legend now, and it’s mostly horseshit, but I digress.

As someone who likes to dress well, you’d think the hoodie would be something to swerve completely in the search for steez. I don’t agree. Even as the most expensive set of clothes on a div still doesn’t change the fact that he’s a div, it’s how you wear garments that make you what you are. This summer 2011 hoodie from Stone Island, worn with the right shirt/jeans/shoes/shorts/t-shirt, is a good case in point, it’s very smart on. But, you can easily pick up a cheaper hoodie from the high street and get it right, provided you think about what you team it up with. I’ve bought a couple of hoodies lately, another brand to look at (as always) is Ralph Lauren. So, the hoodie – more preppy than pikey (another word I’ve now consigned to the Hovian bin).

Book review : Provided You Don’t Kiss Me

July 18, 2011

Provided You Don’t Kiss Me, 20 years with Brian Clough : by Duncan Hamilton

First Published : 2007

ISBN 978-0-00-724711-0

Score out of 5 :

On the one hand, Clough was capable of being unforgivably rude, unecessarily cruel, appallingly bombastic and arrogant, and so downright awkward that I wanted to drop something heavy on his big head. On the other hand, he could be extravagantly generous, emollient and warm, ridiculously kind, and loyal to whoever he thought warranted it, and he often went out of his way to be no bother to anybody. Ken Smales, Forest’s secretary, said that Clough could be like a sheep in wolf’s clothing or a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but that ‘mostly he was just himself’, a description which perfectly encapsulated my problem in the minute or two before our daily meetings: which Brian Clough was going to turn up?

Seven years after his death Brian Clough is still talked about in football circles, ‘legend’ ‘maverick’ ‘best manager England never had’ and all the other cliches that the ‘jumpers for goalposts/ Big Ron Manager’ stereotypes still throw out about the man. The many highs and equally numerous lows of his long football life are well known to everyone who loves the beautiful game on these islands. That’s why I picked up this biography of Clough with reservations, but I was very wrong. This is the best book on any subject I’ve read in a long time.

Duncan Hamilton was a precocious 18 year old, his new sports journalist’s notebook still fresh in his hands, when he first met Clough. Over the next 20 years he had one of the best seats in the whole circus that was the life of Brian Clough. Yet this is no hagiography, although the writer’s admiration for Clough is obvious he doesn’t hold back from the bad shit – and gives a touching portrayal of the old Clough, battling against relegation and his biggest enemy, the bottle.

For Brighton fans there’s little about Clough’s time on the south coast before he left for his infamous 44 days in charge of ‘Dirty’ Leeds, but Hamilton was a reporter for the Nottingham Evening Post, and Nottingham Forest was where his biggest successes came, along with his saddest failures (the long, slow death of his partnership with Peter Taylor is given a candid re-telling here).

You can’t have a book about Clough without mentioning some of his irreverent wit, there’s plenty in here, but more importantly, there’s something of the simplicity of his football philosophy. In today’s game, where you can’t get into a changing room without tripping over nutrionists and psychologists, Clough stands for something that’s gone missing – the common touch, the unfancy approach, and yet for a man whose appearances at team training sessions were erratic to say the least, his teams played fair and played good, attractive, and (early on at Derby and Forest at least) winning football. For this alone, he’s probably missed by supporters of the game everywhere. Here’s a few lines from very many of a very, very good book indeed:

Clough believed that everything in life was overcomplicated and that most coaches were guilty of overcomplicating football, as if it were ‘something like nuclear physics and Einstein had written a book about it’. A pained expression crossed his face whenever he heard coaches talk about ‘systems’ or saw chalk lines scratched on the blackboard. He looked at ‘Subbuteo men being pushed around a felt pitch’ with disgust. ‘Get the ball,’ he said. ‘Give it to your mate or try to go past someone. Score a goal. Make the people watching you feel as if there’s been some skill, some flair in what you’ve done.’

If only the Sam Allardyces of this brave new football world had that outlook on what is really a very simple game.

Albion 3 – 1 Horsham

July 14, 2011

Uninspiring 'Hornet' mascot makes his rounds of the A2B

A pleasant evening’s football in the leafy suburbs of BN14, where you find yourself weaving through parked Range Rovers and BMWs to arrive at the footballing hotbed that is the A2B Stadium, Woodside Road. No swally for me at this one, as it was a school night and I drove over to Worthing.

The A2B is cosy, and with 1100+ spectators there, including a slack handful of middle-aged sad acts down from Horsham singing in front of their green and yellow banner, it had a bit more of an atmosphere than Sunday in Burgess Hill. Horsham are a better side than the Hillians too, and the Albion had to work for an hour before finally breaking down the part-timers with the addition of the phenomenal Craig Noone to the match.

Not for tall people: the turnstiles

Best players of the first half were all to be found in midfield, especially Navarro (he spoiled that performance with a lamentable effort at the start of the second spell, perhaps he’s not 100% match fit after all?), Buckley, and the superb Sparrow. Big Rowland was miles better too, putting himself about and showing a better touch, but he missed a free header from 5 yards out in the second half, he worries me, a lot.

The not unimpressive A2B Stadium, Worthing FC

It was still 0-0 in the second half when Navarro gave away the ball cheaply, and Horsham scored a well-earned goal. Poyet had seen enough when he nearly did the same thing two minutes later, and he substituted 11 players. No Mackail-Smith or Hoskins at the game, so chances for Torbjorn Agdestein (a dream for commentators this coming season I’m sure), and George Barker to shine. The star of the show was the irrepressible Craig Noone. Non-league players can’t live with his speed and touch, and he turned the game seconds after coming on.  Nooney made one for Agdestein to bundle over the line, scored one for himself, and Barker scored the third, goodnight Irene. Mild grumbles among the chain-smoking and pint-swilling faithful soon turned to mild applause and appreciation, and I was really gagging for a shant myself when the 90 were up.

Albion lay siege to the Hornets' 'slightly pissed' goal in the first half

This is my last pre-season match before Spurs, no Portugal this year, but hopefully the club will get their finger out and have an East Stand season ticket holder’s open night at Falmer (they’ve done the North & West Upper Stand open nights already), so I can get my arse on my new padded seat and take a few phots for the blog. Cheers.

"What are you looking at?" 'Lurch' gets a game in goal for Horsham

Don't rub them Rowland, count them

Buckley delivers

Ballboy not overly interested in the Gary Dicker short corner technique

Will Buckley has a go, equally unfussed ballboy off camera

The shortest 'vent arshal' in the Isthmian League, or any league

I feel a Half Man Half Biscuit song coming on

Second half and the A2B transforms into the Stadium of Light

Nooney is so fast he can't be photographed unblurred

Gratuitous floodlight p0rn

Beautiful Worthing at dusk

Burgess Hill 0 – 3 Albion

July 10, 2011

First match report of the 2011-12 season, it won’t be much of a report, more of a “look at me phots!”. Nice little ground is Leylands Park. Sometimes you’ve got to envy non-league football; grounds where you can take a pint out and watch the match, no police to be seen, and you can eat a homemade ham salad bap wrapped in cellophane and purchased from a tent.

Nice to see the new faces at the club. Goals from Barnes, Noone (pen) and Hoskins against a game Hill side. You obviously can’t tell much from what is basically a practice match, but I’ll crack on anyway. Rowland Bergkamp looks the part, big and muscular, but has the touch of a rapist. Great to see Alan Navarro start, very slim-looking and fizzing the ball around like he’s never been away. Buckley was a bit messy, and both Craig Mackail-Smith and Will Hoskins looked menacing. CMS is a strong looking boy, and I can’t wait to see him getting amongst Championship defenders this season. There were a couple of other new boys/trialists but none stood out for me to be honest, so I’ll reserve judgement for the Tottenham game.

So, a nice afternoon out, wetting the appetite for Spurs on the 30th and then the league proper. As for that new away kit – nay, nay and thrice nay. Cheers.

A casual buy no. 38

July 6, 2011

I’m getting my mod mojo on here with this latest polo to join the rather large pile I have at home. There’s a proper Fred Perry store in Duke’s Lane, but it has the whiff of “funboy” about it. So, I like to schlep up to Jump The Gun in Gardner Street, where Stockport’s most famous son and his clothing brand are stocked in a true keep-it-real environs. The guys at JTG are cool, and the music they play there is enough for me to pop in even if I’m not after a modish item. Surely Brighton’s hippest shop, and I don’t mean that in that too-cool-for-school way that Brighton sometimes rightly gets criticised for, but ‘cool’ like in Carnaby Street circa 1962. JTG is unashamedly ‘Mod’ with a capital ‘M’.

There’s not much to say about Fred Perry the brand that hasn’t been said. All the style and fashion cliches will suffice. But a FP polo, worn correctly of course (ironed, top button done up, smart sunnys above that, no arse-hanging skinny jeans etc, etc), is a timeless look (cliche!?!). The Mod books in the picture I’ve owned for years now, always good for a flick through now and again, just to ‘keep it real’ for today’s world.

The ‘zine scene

July 4, 2011

As a sometime contributor to currently Brighton’s one and only fanzine – The Seagull Love Review – I’m also someone who loves these rags, a bit of a fanzine anorak if you like (I’m not always around to contribute my written shite to the TSLR editors, not because I’m a lazy twat, I just happen to work abroad a lot). From the legendary The End (anyone have an original edition of this BTW? I’m willing to pay through the nose for it) and Boy’s Own, to the obscure, the badly written, and even the glossy bigheads of today like United We Stand, you could say I’m a big fan of the fanzines.

The Albion has had many fanzines over the years, some more successful than others, but during the insanity of the Archer/Bellotti scandal of 1995-1997, Albion fanzine writers had tons of rich material to choose from for their lampoonery and ridicule, although I’m sure each and every one of them would have jacked it all in to keep the Goldstone Ground as it was.

I bought this selection of old Brighton fanzines on eBay, they were 80 pence each, a steal to be fair. And Smith Must Score from 1988 is cheap and amateurish, making it my favourite rag, but then across the country football fanzines were still in their infancy at this time, so this old dog-eared A4 edition, rusty staples and all, is really a historical social document, all for 80p, that’s just fucking amazing.

The writing really gets going during the slow death of the Goldstone, and this period in Albion fanzine history sees Gull’s Eye, On The Up, then Seaside Saga going great guns against the fiasco gripping the club. It’s painful reading at times, but the writing is fantastic. Fanzines by their very nature are not strict, objective journalism, they’re written by fan(atic)s, so the anger and hatred of Archer and his henchman Bellotti is from the very heart; again this is stuff of legend, and each ‘zine cost me less than a ‘quality’ daily broadsheet. Stick that in your Independent.

So, I’m probably spoiling my chances now on eBay of bidding just the once for more copies of these brilliant old ‘zines, but you should have a look on there and pick up a copy or two, because as Bob Marley said: “In this bright future you can’t forget your past”.


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