We thought thrashing Leyton Orient Five Nil on News Years Day was good and it was it’s always fun to thrash O’s. They were of course a rival a few years ago, but not so much now. My point is the curve of 2011 just went up and up for Albion fans. It usually goes up a little or even quite high like 1983, then comes down quite drastically, relegation or threat of expulsion from the league that sort of thing.
The truth is 2011 has been a wonderfully transitional year for Brighton & Hove Albion, for these easy to follow reasons.
1. Johnny Come Lateley’s . New fans who for some reason never managed to make it to Withdean. Probably because they’d get wet , maybe because the players were half a mile from the stands, almost certainly because we didn’t have pretty, almost sexy multi million pound players in those days, but definitely because Richie Reynolds wasn’t the ‘face’ and haircut (jealous, yes I am) of Seagulls TV.
Seagulls TV didn’t exist at The Withdean. There was a TV a JVC in the Legends Lounge.
JCL’s apparently leave early, whatever the score, don’t know the words to Sussex By The Sea and most disgracefully use the public transport system and don’t join in that wonderful pastime of annoying the residents of Coldean. However these newbie’s and their season tickets and corporate memberships have helped put the club in the wonderful financial position it finds itself in today.
2. North Stand Kollective The NSK Ultra’s et etc.
A group of gentlemen and some ladies (certainly not JCL’s) Who get the singing going in the North stand at The Amex ‘we’re the north stand we’re north stand etc etc. You get the message. They also stand up during the match, even though the Amex has the comfiest seats in the Football League (I expect) until they get told off by a steward. They sing retro songs?? Apparently with lyrics only a few ‘members’ know. They might also use flares, though I am not sure about platform heels.
3. Piglets Pantry Pies.
Chicken , Steak, Chicken Balti, and Veggie. Always sell out usually about 2:15 pm. I hear there is always someone wandering around sloshing a pint of Harvey’s over the pristine Amex concourse floor at halftime, desperate for a Piglets Pantry Pie. It is rumoured, though not confirmed, there is a giant oven containing an inexhaustible supply somewhere in the stadium.
4. The 1901 Club West and East.
The Albion waited 110 years for large scale corporate type facilities and boy have they embraced it. Fine dining and a former Albion star to help you scoop up your peas.
2000 odd people resplendent in orange or white lanyards who don’t have to queue quite as long for a beer. You also get a free coffee at halftime and complimentary programme.
If you are that way inclined there is always a dolly bird to chat to, though I think officially they are ‘helpful’ staff, or more likely students.
The best thing about the 1901 Club is the view from seats (unless you sit in front of the safety Perspex) and the fact you don’t have to queue for the bogs.
5. The American Express Community Stadium.
Probably the best thing ever to happen to Brighton & Hove Albion and actually Brighton & Hove in general.
Let’s face it before the Amex what did we have? A derelict Pier and another one now so very tacky and full of cockney types, every day is a Chas n Dave convention.
The town had nothing prior to The Amex. The Brighton Centre is like an unintentional 70’s theme park, the Dome is best suited to organ recitals’, and no Brightonian has ever set foot in the Pavilion, unless they are attending a wedding.
Now we have a fabulous state of the art arena. Who will ever forget August 6th, the noise the passion, the last minute winner!
Brighton and Hove has never had anything like the Amex,however quaint, original and individual the area wants to be.
A lot of the conurbation is quite run down (as a Brightonian born in Buckingham Road I can say that) The Amex improves this City massively in one stroke. Massive thanks to Tony Bloom and the board for that.
6. Gus Poyet's Championship winning team.
A remarkable team who sewed up promotion with five games left to play and the League 1 title with four games left to play.
Beautiful possession football, which was too much for most, if not all League 1 teams to cope with.
League leaders from September the Albion would effortlessly thrash the opposition. Many of who would turn up at Withdean and celebrate ONLY a one or two nil defeat.
The style of play has continued to The Amex, but the opposition are far more resilient.
However leading the Championship division in September, for the first time in 32 was an amazing feat and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone concerned with the club.
So 2011 has probably been the greatest ever in the history of Brighton & Hove Albion.
A financially secure club in a great stadium, with a brilliant young manager.
This time next year we could be in the Premier League playing in front of 30,000 plus home crowds.
Next time you moan about queuing for your train at Falmer station, think about that and about those who used to get on a less than comfortable coach at Conway Street in Hove, ready to ensure a awful two hour journey just to go to a home game.
Happy New Year.