Seagulls Over Burwash Article – Burwash January 2018

Drubbings, Rivalries and Records

Well, I guess it was always going to happen. The realities of being in the top flight of English football were laid bare recently when Brighton and Hove Albion’s home fixture against Liverpool resulted in a 5 – 1 drubbing. The visitors gave a masterclass of controlled football, quick accurate passing and confidence on the ball. Although Liverpool didn’t have too many clear cut chances, when opportunities arose, their finishing was clinical. When playing at such a high a standard as the Premier League, any team which does not play to their full potential or has an ‘off day’ is likely to be on the wrong end of a cricket score. Such was the case against Liverpool. Brighton defended resolutely but every lapse of concentration was punished. However, it is not only the so called smaller teams such as the Albion that can get walloped. Liverpool themselves got spanked 5 – 0 by Manchester City, a scoreline which, I am sure, was put down to ‘a bad day at the office’ by the Liverpool heirarchy.

The 2017 season saw the resumption of the ‘derby’ matches between Brighton and Crystal Palace. The rivalry between the clubs at either end of the A23 is not an obvious one; the clubs are separated by a distance of 50 miles. However, back in the 1970s, former England and Tottenham Hotspurs player, Alan Mullery, was Brighton’s manager whilst his former Spurs team mate, Terry Venables, was in charge at Palace. Apparently, they had history and had not got on since Mullery was made Spurs captain ahead of Venables. Their antagonism towards each other persisted into their respective managerial careers and in 1976, the two clubs met in the FA Cup. The first game, at Brighton’s Goldstone Ground, ended in a 2-2 draw with the replay finishing 1-1. After two postponements due to the weather, a second replay was contested at a neutral ground, Stanford Bridge, and, with seconds left on the clock, Brighton were awarded a penalty. The spot kick was converted by Albion captain, Brian Horton, but, much to the ire of the Brighton players and manager, the referee, Mr Ron Challis, ordered the kick to be retaken due to player encroachment of the penalty area. Television replays revealed it was the Palace players only who had encroached. The retaken penalty was saved and Palace went through to the next round of the cup. While Venables and Palace celebrated gleefully, Mullery was furious and, to make matters worse, as he left the pitch a steaming hot cup of coffee was thrown over him by a Palace fan. He lost the plot, grabbed some change out of his pocket, threw it on the ground and told the Palace supporters that that was what their club was worth. With a final two-fingered gesture, he was escorted back to the changing room by the police. From then until today, the rivalry between the Albion and Palace has continued and the referee has been known as ‘Challis of the Palace’.

Whilst most of the Brighton and Crystal Palace supporters treat the largely manufactured rivalry between the clubs as no more than a bit of fun, a small minority of supporters (and I use the term very loosely) take it way too far. The recent match between the clubs was marred by violence, antisocial behaviour and obnoxious chants. Following scuffles in the town centre and at the Brighton railway station, approximately 150 ticketless Palace followers stormed the turnstiles at the away end and entered the ground just after kick-off. The police then had no option than to close the turnstiles and numerous genuine Palace supporters with tickets were refused entry and sent home. During the game, flares, fireworks and crow scarers were set off in the Palace section and during the proceedings, two stewards were injured. Such behaviour is as unacceptable to the vast majority of football fans as it is to the rest of the populace and only serves to taint the sport of football with preconceptions and stereotypes that we all had hoped had been consigned to history. Brighton and Hove Albion is an inclusive club and has developed the Amex stadium in to a family friendly venue that all supporters can be proud of. We must not allow a few thugs to ruin the enjoyment of the tens of thousands of fans that follow the Albion. Hopefully, the perpetrators of the trouble at the Palace game, whatever team they were ‘representing’, will be identified by the police, charged and banned from football venues for life.

Which brings me on nicely to the third round of the FA Cup which is to be played during the first week of January. Given the aforementioned origins of the Brighton/Crystal Palace rivalry, guess who we have been drawn against? Yep, you have it in one; Crystal Palace! Despite the dull 0 – 0 draw that was played out in the recent game, BT Sport have selected this match for television broadcast on the evening of Monday 8th. Hopefully, the game will pass without incident and both the Palace and Albion supporters will be able to enjoy the game for what is is….. a game.

The Liverpool game was the latest occasion at which the attendance record at the Amex was broken. It was a complete sellout with 30,634 supporters filling the ground. As well as that, the game broke the club record for the match day food and drink sales, including my two pints of Harveys. The record attendance and catering sales combined to result in a record match day profit of over £1 million.

As mentioned in previous articles, our two Seagulls Over Burwash coaches fill up rapidly for all home game. So, if you have tickets for any games this season and would like to travel with us to the Amex, please contact us as soon as possible to book your places.

For further information on joining Seagulls Over Burwash and details of forthcoming events, meetings or coach travel, please visit our website at www.seagullsoverburwash.co.uk or email me at simon.forster@seagullsoverburwash.co.uk. Alternatively, contact SOB Chairman, Teskey O’Neil, on 01580 860625 or tesbar80@btinternet.com.

 

Simon Forster