Posts Tagged ‘Pre-season Friendlies’

Return of the Mac

July 29, 2010

"Brighton? I'm bigger than you and higher up the food chain. Get in my belly"

Mark Magoo’s Aberdeen are coming down from the Granite City to play his old club at Withdean on Saturday. I’ve got a bit of time off work, and I see that there’s still plenty of seats available on the club ticket website. I’ll probably get a seat in the North Stand, as it’s likely to be the last chance I’ll ever get to sit in that quiet expanse of seating. To say a stand is ‘quiet’ compared to the rest of the noise vacuum that is the Theatre of Trees should give you some idea how somnambulant the old fellas over there really are.

Opinions are divided on Mark McGhee’s tenure in Sussex, I like(d) the guy, the teams he put out were always entertaining, his sacking was, for me, premature. But, it’s an ever-distancing memory now and I’m looking forward to seeing how his latest team do back in his old stomping ground.

A Passage to Portugal (part deux)

July 27, 2010

I’ll be brief with this post because A) There’s been plenty of talk in the Argus and on the interweb about Albion’s second ill-fated match in the Algarve B) I’m tired and fancy a wee nap.

We arrived late Saturday afternoon at the Estadio da Nora in Ferreiras, 3-4 miles north of Albufeira itself, in good time for a few shants before kick-off. The stadium bar were not interested so we found a bar out on the main drag where we met up with other travelling Seagulls on the same mission.

The match itself was never going to reach the same levels of satisfaction as Wednesday’s for two good reasons. Portimonense are not Sunderland, and they were never going to be troubled by an Albion team reduced to the archetypal ‘kick and rush’ British style of play so denigrated by the Great Beckenbauer. The second was that the small crowd was full of Albion fans, a few locals, and a scattering of Portimonense followers. I missed the Mackems and their noise and banter.

We met up with a regular Withdean mate, who drove over from Lagos with his missus and her two daughters. The girls weren’t that keen on watching this game, and they way it ended up made me certain my pal wouldn’t be hassled for a young person’s ticket at the Theatre of Trees anytime soon.

Now the meat – after Portimonense took a well deserved 2-0 lead I was feeling that regular down-to-earth-bump you always get as a Brighton fan. The difference in style between these two sides was enormous. I was scrutinising two guys in particular on the park – Messrs Poke and El-Abd. Poke looks dodgy – that’s all I have to say – but of course he could be better and it’s only pre-season, but the doubt is there.

Adam El-Abd has always warmed the cockles of the residents of Casa Hovian. The big bruiser is the consummate club man, an all-round good guy who shut up a few critics last year with some sterling displays alongside Tommy Elphick at the back of our defence. With the arrival of Gordon Greer - who looks, is built the same, and runs like Elphick - El-Abd has his work cut out keeping his slot at centre back. Greer was Lawrenson-esque on Wedsnesday, poor old Bomber was Hawkins-esque on Saturday night.

The “Brawl”? Nothing, nada. I didn’t see what happened until I saw first the Albion bench empty, then the Portimonense bench empty, followed by two local coppers, and finally, assorted handbag wavers. For the referee to abandon the match over what amounted to a bunfight was ludicrous, almost as ludicrous as his burgundy coloured outfit and his haughty, imperious manner, not in keeping with officiating a friendly match in the Algarve in July. He is obviously an admirer of a certain bald off-duty copper from Rotherham, and this was his World Cup Final. A bellend.

After the ritual booing of and gesticulating to the Portuguese team as they left the field, most of our fans were at a loss thinking of what to do next. Some (including us) retired to the nearest bar again for a soak, others waited for taxis that never came; the rumour was that the cab firms heard the news “Football stadium? Check. Fight? Check. English fans? Check.” and gave the place a wide berth. We were lucky in that after we sank a couple of beers our generous host ordered us a cab home.

We flew out of Faro the next morning, the fastest week of our lives over, until the next foreign holiday of course. All in all it was a great experience and I loved every moment of it.

Hang on, I said I would be brief! But I love waxing about the Albion, I’ve missed the buzz since May, and my season ticket arrived home today, that has given me a much needed post-holiday lift. First game for me will probably be at home against Rochdale on August 14th, I’m working on the day we go to Swindon. Bugger.

A Passage to Portugal

July 26, 2010

I’ve returned from the land of the burning sun to bring you tales of awe and wonder, of drink and football, and finally (in a later post than this) the details of one “friendly” game that will pass into Brighton and Hove Albion folklore. So, with without further ado, let us start.

We stayed for the week on a hill above the old town in Albufeira – a great area, not too commercial compared to the rest of the place, and full of characters. Straightaway I was on the local swally, Sagres.

One of the first things we noticed was Albufeira’s Cliff Richard fixation – the great man’s visog was everywhere – our Thomson rep informed us that Sir Cliff keeps a home closeby in the Algarve, and he’s a “living legend” hereabouts. Congratulations Cliff.

So, after a crazily drunken Tuesday night spent in town with a gang of Seagulls that resulted in an extended stay in bed Wednesday, we headed up to the Municipal Stadium for the first match against Sunderland.

The main stand, which was the only one there, quickly filled up with 50/50 South Coasters and Mackems. We found ourselves behind a gang of the latter who actually made the news back home.

The problem for Sunderland fans was twofold. First the Albion played their side off the park with the Gus Poyet trademarked short passing game, the 1-1 final scoreline flattered the Mackems somewhat. The second was the appearance of Titus Bramble, who apparently was “a c**t”, but then so was Steve Bruce after a few more alcohol-free pints of lager.

You see when we got to the stadium we soon found out that the local cops must’ve thought this would be a high risk game – because the club bar was only serving soft drinks and offensive non-alcohol beer! But nobody told the dozen Mackems who turned up shit-faced in front of us. They were buying round after round of the stuff (and I swear they were getting more pissed on it) before one of them shouts “H’way, this is fooking alcohol free laagaa man, bastaaads!”

It was all good fun, but they were shouting so loud that the Sunderland bench turned round to watch them, and some other Mackems started to tell them to shut the fuck up. Soon the local plod took an interest, aided by a big burly bloke in plainclothes who must have been Sunderland’s football intelligence officer, he immediately started filming them (and us sat behind them). The local cops moved in and the gobbiest one was hoyed out, only to sneak in again near the end.

As the match wore on and Sunderland got steadily worse on the pitch the rowdies in front of us sat dejectedly, they all agreed that Brighton had “a better manager”, and that we looked like the Premiershit team, not them. One young fella kept shouting out “Shite!” every two minutes. He turned to his mate and says “If I say shite one more time man, fuck me!” He then thinks for a minute and shouts out “Shit!” for the rest of the half. Priceless.

I’ll put more stuff up later, and there was a lot happened at the next match, as you probably all know about already. I’ll put my version of it, but I missed the actual punches going in (if indeed they actually did). Obrigado!

Here’s a taster….

More Albufeira

 Here’s a few more pictures from the Sunderland match

 

Summer Holiday

July 17, 2010

That’s it, the bags are packed, the money’s changed, all’s that left to do is get ourselves up to Gatwick tomorrow morning. Hovian Towers will be closed for business between the 18th and 25th July, as yours truly and Mrs H are off to the Algarve.

No doubt there’ll be a fair few Seagulls circling about Albufeira’s strip and old town, so I’m expecting a largish crowd at both our matches over there. Wednesday sees the Albion taking on Sunderland at the Estadio Municipal de Albufeira, home of Imortal DAC. Saturday’s fixture against local first division side Portimonense has been moved closer to Albufeira at the Estadio Da Nora, where Ferreiras FC ply their trade.

I’ll be everywhere with the trusty old snapper, chronicling the sights and flavours of the whole trip, so whenever I get home there’ll be a record of all the shenanigans all ready for posting here. See you all next week.

Albion in Europe

July 13, 2010

Supporting Brighton and Hove Albion doesn’t give you many options for European football travel, that’s just a fact of life when you pin your colours to the mast of a Division Three club. Not for us are tales of wild-eyed grafters and jibbers taking the Transalpino rattler through the continent on the coat-tails of their all-conquering football teams, robbing and pillaging poorly guarded sports and fashion outlets for the latest continental threads. It just didn’t happen.

But this pre-season even lowly Albion fans can get a taste of what is seen as a birthright for fans of the Big Four – we’re playing two matches in Albufeira in the Algarve next week, and I’ll be there folks, oh yes.

Some say being a dresser is most difficult in the summertime, it’s hard to stand out from the herd when everyone it seems is in cargo shorts and trainers, of course this is true. But I see it as a challenge too – although bright garish sportswear is strictly for whoppers in the winter, in summertime the discerning dresser can let his colourful side – hidden underneath big, expensive hooded outerwear during the season – come out to play. So, I’ve bought a few bits and bobs to throw on while fighting the 30+ degree heat of southern Portugal in July. It’s tough I know, but duty calls.

I don’t normally wear hattage, a throwback to my army days where it was good to let the barnet out in the fresh air now and again. But, as my celtic skin burns like an Albino’s arse cheeks, I have to cover up in hotter climes. I bought this bucket hat by Beechfield for under a fiver on Amazon, the pin badges give it a bit of life – two from the highly recommended casual connoisseur chaps, and the Seagull a snip at £2 from the club shop.

The orange ‘Four Across’ t-shirt I picked up from Brighton’s very own Mod emporium - Jump The Gun in Gardner Street, a great place for Fred Perry by the way. The adidas trainer tee was in an online sale. I’ll also be taking three or four Lacoste polos, a pair of jeans and a couple of pairs of trainers as well – and along with the beachwear: pool shorts, flippies, towels and tinnie cooler – I’ll be well sorted. So, it’s Sunderland FC up first next Wednesday night at the Municipal Stadium in Albufeira, stay tuned for words and pictures some time after that. Cheers.

Torquay 0 – 1 Albion

January 2, 2010

"Sybil, quick, you're missing the start of the match"

FA Cup time against those other Football League “Gulls”, Torquay United. They’ve already beaten us in pre-season last year, and knocked out our fellow League One strugglers Stockport, but I think we should win this one straight out. A big Premiershit away draw awaits us in round four if we do, I can feel it in my bones.

Poyet is going with a 4-3-3, with Dickinson on the right and Murray/Forster marauding up front, and Adam Virgo gets a rare start at centre back. Game on. Even stevens for the first half hour, nothing doing, Forster appeals for a penalty, not given. Jesus this is boring. Oh, a corner on 40 mins, cosmic. Murray has a pop just before half-time, fluffs his shot. There’s the whistle.

Dickinson working hard down the right at the start of the second half. I think Poyet needs to make a change soon, this game is stalemate. Virgo playing his big fat socks off – good for him. Navarro on for Cox, oo-er. Dicko has a good shot on goal – saved, not much else happening, poor game. Corner – CROFTS!!! heads in 1-0!

We’re looking to finish this, Forster comes close. Torquay going for it, Virgs get booked for a silly tackle, we need to keep cool heads here for this last five. Free kick for Torquay just on the 18 yard box, shit. Kuipers saves. Three minutes of injury-time. We’re making hard work of this. And that’s it – Albion reach the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1993. Who are we gonna get??

The Hovian’s Albion Team Performance :  6 out of 10

The Hovian’s Albion Man of the Match : Adam Virgo

Albion Team (goalscorers in bold):

(4-3-3) Kuipers; Hoyte, Tunnicliffe, Virgo, McNulty; Cox (Navarro 65), Dicker, Crofts; Dickinson, Forster, Murray

(Subs) Brezovan, Elphick, Navarro, Bennett, Davieeees, Hart, Whing

Shoreham 0 – 2 Albion XI

August 5, 2009

An Albion XI featuring a seemingly fully fit Jim McNulty beat minnow neighbours Shoreham at their gaff last night. The big fella with one kidney played sixty minutes of a game where Jamie Smith and youngster George Barker both got on the scoresheet.

Glad to have McNulty back, but it does give Russell Slade a bit of a headache with so many good defenders now in the squad.

My starting line-up for Walsall this Saturday is as follows:

Kuipers

Whing          Elphick          Virgo (C)          J Wright

Navarro

M Wright          Dicker             Crofts               Cox  

Dickinson

Scunthorpe 0 – 2 Albion

August 1, 2009

The Iron. They certainly were last season. I was at the Withdean last year when this big physical team steamrollered the Seagulls, it was a case of men against boys that afternoon (4-1 Sat 6th Sep).

Then, against all odds, and battering the egos of bigger clubs like Leeds and Millwall, they won the play-offs, and I was glad they did (I fancy us against those other two more than Scunny). So, where better to go and test Russell Slade’s new look team than Glanford Park?

It’s a lazy sunny day here in Kabul, so I’ll have Seagulls Player (new name for Seagulls World, still shit) on later, if it fooking works, and will give my view on this last friendly before next saturday’s big kick-off at the Withdean. Stay tuned.

It’s now 3:04pm, I’m sat looking at my laptop and Seagulls Player is doing fook all. Marvellous. Commentary comes on finally at 3:07pm, can hardly hear it. Jake Wright makes a bright start, I’m liking this guy already. I think Albion are playing five in midfield, with Navarro sitting in front of the back four and leaving Dicko alone up front. First attack by Scunny, Kuipers makes brilliant save! Elphick heads behind for corner. Cleared off the line by Virgo.

GOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!! From nowhere, Jake Wright wings one in, Cox slots it to Mark Wright, he shoots, ball rebounds off the goalie and Wright taps in. Dickinson wins a corner. Crofts heads one from Mark Wright’s  corner – SAVED! I’m enjoying this. Crofts again, Cox shoots – corner. Cox takes, Elphick heads over. It’s all Albion, Dicko, Cox, Dicker, Mark Wright, Dicko again, they’re really putting pressure on. Dickinson playing really well, working hard.

Scunny break through, closed down by Kuipers – he’s number one this season, no question. This 4-5-1 looks like it’s working well. The wingers are finding space, and Dicko is making a nuisance of himself. Dicko sets up for Cox and he misses a sitter. Half-time, very impressive so far readers.

Changes for half-time: Murray on for Dicko and Jamie Smith on for Dicker. Virgo gets clattered in the face by an Iron player, has to go off, may have lost a couple of teeth. Cox has a good shot on goal, that’s it little fella – the goal’s there somewhere! Cox crosses, Glenn Murray SCORES! 2-0!

Mark Wright crosses for Tommy Elphick, he misses. Cox shoots again, past the post! That’s four clear-cut chances for the little ‘un. Funny as foook. Corner to Scunthorpe, amazing double save from the big Dutchman!! McLeod comes on for Cox and straightaway nearly scores. Scunny fans getting on the backs of their team – it’s a FRIENDLY. Haha! Jim McNulty is on for Jake Wright, fantastic news, I’m well happy for him.

Last ten minutes, Tunnicliffe defending well, McNulty too. Smith busy in midfield. Kuipers is masterful in goal, it’s a hard one for man of the match, Cox, Dicko, Murray, but I’m going to give it jointly to the big keeper and Mark Wright. That’s it, game over.

Final thoughts: That’s the end of the pre-season friendlies. A mixed bag, but this last game, easily the toughest on paper, has been very impressive and I think we have our starting line up for the first game of the season. It’s all over bar the shouting, now the real stuff begins – with ten months of League One football ahead of us. Loving it!

Good Old Sussex By The Sea!!!

Xenophon’s Albion Team Performance : 9 out of 10

Xenophon’s Albion Man of the Match : Michel Kuipers & Mark Wright

Albion Team (goalscorers in bold):

(4-4-2) Kuipers; Whing (El Abd 55), J Wright (McNulty 63), Elphick, Virgo (Tunnicliffe 48); M Wright, Navarro, Dicker (J Smith 45), Crofts, Cox (McLeod 55); Dickinson (Murray 45).

Jake Wright is a Seagull

July 31, 2009

Great news. Although Crawley Town fans tell me he’s a natural centre back it looks like Wright will slot into cover Jim McNulty at left back. The new signing played for us at Torquay and was man of a very poor match for us.

Hearts were the SPL club interested in signing him, and offered a lot more money for Wright, but he seems to like life in Sussex. Good lad!

Russell Slade has made quite a few signings this summer, pre-season has been poor, but the buck stops next Saturday 8th August.

Torquay United 1 – 0 Albion

July 28, 2009
Looks like hes enjoying the match at least

Looks like he's enjoying the match at least

Torquay. I’ve never been, but whenever I hear that word “Torquay” I always think of one immortal (and fictional) denizen of the little seaside resort, Basil Fawlty. I’ve had a few ales tonight before listening to this game – my best buddy is leaving Afghanistan after 3 years and we gave him a BBQ send-off. But enough of that, the Albion are playing Torquay United in a pre-season friendly, what’s more important?

The new Seagulls World site isn’t working, I’m on the old one listening to the Torquay tannoy, what is going on? They are so amateurish. It’s gone – no commentary, just about got the starting 11. Fook me. Back on.

Starting 11 look like the strongest Slade could’ve put together. Jake Wright the Crawley player getting a run out at left back, still the problem position for us, very interesting, we’ll see. He’s made a steady start. Forster and Spiller look sharp too. On 15mins Virgo and Elphick in a muddle, Virgo clears, Jake Wright looking composed.

Torquay attack and Kuipers makes good save, is Dickinson on the pitch? All Torquay, Jesus! Kuipers saves us again. Lacklustre, pre-season bores. I should have stayed and got minging at the BBQ. Dicko gets a touch on 30 mins! Fooking hell 1-0 to Torquay, took us apart and a tap-in (40 mins). Forster shoots and misses. Woeful. H/T.

No changes at H/T mmm – are we looking at our starting 11 for Walsall August 8th? Crofts scores!!! No, offside? Not given. Shite. Slade has ripped each of them a new arsehole, obviously. Mark Wright shoots! saved! Different side so far this half. Even Dicko looks interested. Mass substitution on 60 mins. Craig Davies injured, trying to run it off.

El Abd on for Whing on 70 mins. Jake Wright now centre back and  still playing well, the non-league man is leading the way. Smith now makes a good save, both our keepers are on top of their game, they look like they need to be for this season. Albion running out of steam, weaker players on IMHO. Davies getting booked for gobbing off, hang on – HE’S BEEN SENT OFF. Torquay’s man sees yellow, eh? Pants. Could be a three game ban now.

Navarro flicks on, Tunnicliffe heads – saved! Forster has an ice-pack on his dodgy knee, not looking good. Dicko and Murray up front for Walsall? Torquay finishing strong, three back to back chances. Blow it up ref, Jesus!

It’s over, rotten game. Nighty night

Xenophon’s Albion Team Performance : 3 out of 10

Xenophon’s Albion Man of the Match : Jake Wright

Albion Team (goalscorers in bold):

(4-4-2) Kuipers (Smith 60) ; Whing (El Abd 70), Elphick (Chronis 60), Virgo (Tunnicliffe 75), J Wright ; M Wright (Navarro 60), Spiller (Thornhill 60), Crofts (Dicker 60), Cox (J Smith 75); Forster (Murray 60), Dickinson (Davies 60);


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