Archive for August, 2011

Albion 2 – 0 Peterborough

August 28, 2011

The Big Lemon bus smoke bombs the Amex

Top of the league. A simply brilliant day for the Albion yesterday, first news was we have Liverpool at home in the Carling Cup (which I’m 99% sure I’m going to miss with work commitments), then a mostly workmanlike victory (apart from two class goals) over an unpredictable Peterborough team who decided they were up for a battle.

We took a taxi from the pub in Hove up to the ground. Stuck behind the Big Lemon bus – which runs on second-hand chip fat – with a looney Afghan taxi driver at the wheel, made for a bonkers trip up the A27 and into the stadium, and treatment for smoke inhalation was nearly on the cards before I sunk a pint in the ground.

Walking up the short stairway and emerging into the East Stand still hasn’t got old for me, the buzz and the noise, then the vista of the West Stand towering over the scene, it still gets the hairs on my neck standing to attention, I nearly have to pinch myself that we’ve finally left the Withers for this place.

We played the Poyet way by the book in this game, but credit to Posh, they weren’t here to make up the numbers and could have gone home with a result if they could shoot straight or cross the ball in the last third better. It wasn’t an exceptional performance from the Albion, but if you win the games that you don’t shine in you should still be in the mix at the end of the season. And I really believe we can make a charge for promotion – why not? provided if we keep our heads and injuries are kind to us.

Craig Noone carried on his own phenomenal charge for the player of the season award with another great outing, his goal might have been saved if a better keeper was in goal for Posh, but if you get them on target they sometimes go in, 1-0. After that Peterborough piled on the pressure, and Lewis Dunk had his best game yet for the stripes in keeping them out, he is a very promising young central defender right now. Posh’s best player – George Boyd – went off injured (I think) and we started to get back into things second half.

Ryan Harley scored a peach of a free-kick which put the icing on a fantasic league debut at Falmer, and I made him Man of the Match alongside the real unsung hero of this team – Liam Bridcutt. Bridcutt does the simple thing better than anyone at the club, he is the epitome of the ‘spoiler’, the defensive midfield distruttore del gioco (destroyer of the game) beloved in the Italian game. A little leg out here, a full-bodied challenge there, he evens pops up in both penalty areas in the air to win balls against much taller players. If you watch him alone for any length of time on the park you’re watching a player with exceptional positional awareness, he arrives just when and where you want him, a superb addition to this squad when he came from Chelsea (their loss – big time) last season. Harley was the painter and decorator to Bridcutt’s builder, great to watch.

Now that the break for international football happens next weekend, the Albion are top dogs for an extended fortnight at least, a time where hopefully Buckley, Hoskins and Vincelot get back to full fitness. There are so many talented footballers at this club right now it makes your head spin a litle – is this really the same old Albion that used to delight and enrage in equal amounts, usually during the same match? The answer is surely no, we’re witnessing something special on the edge of the South Downs, where it will all end who knows? But it won’t be boring whatever happens.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 8 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Ryan Harley and Liam Bridcutt

Attendance: 19,656 (1,408 Peterborough United)

Championship table snapshot

As it stood on 27 Aug 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Brighton 5 6 13
2 Southampton 5 6 12
3 Derby 5 5 12
4 Middlesbrough 5 5 11
5 Crystal Palace 5 3 10
6 Cardiff 5 1 8
7 Blackpool 5 1 8
8 Peterborough 5 4 7
9 West Ham 4 4 7
10 Leicester 5 -1 7
11 Millwall 5 1 6
12 Portsmouth 5 0 6
13 Hull 5 -3 6
14 Ipswich 5 -6 6
15 Burnley 4 -1 5
16 Nott’m Forest 4 -1 5
17 Barnsley 5 -2 5
18 Bristol City 5 -4 5
19 Leeds 5 -1 4
20 Reading 5 -1 4
21 Birmingham 3 -2 3
22 Coventry 5 -3 2
23 Watford 4 -5 2
24 Doncaster 5 -6 1

A casual buy no. 40

August 25, 2011

I haven’t posted about clothes for a little while now, the football has been hectic since the start of this new season and frankly I’ve been totally immersed in the new stadium and great results. That’s not to say I haven’t been picking up bits and pieces here and there, I have, but I’m also not one who shops for big winter coats in the middle of August, so what I have bought has been lightweight and summery (I know, the weather is shit right now) and probably not that strictly ‘casual’ (for want of a better word). Anyways a winter sport will have a wintery influence on ‘football fashion’ (for want of even better words). But I’m waffling now.

Nothings speaks of ‘summer’ more than ‘deck shoes’, they are an essential piece of kit in any self-respecting dresser’s wardrobe. The ubiquitous short and trainer combination is fine for cutting about town or holiday during the day, but if it’s still hot enough at night and you still want bare knees the humble deck shoe should keep you one-up on the riff-raff in the sartorial stakes.

I used to wear a lot of Sperry deckies, probably the most iconic deck shoe on the market, with a large preppy heritage. Two things have gradually turned me off Sperry though: they wear out rather quickly, and the classic deck-thin non-slip sole doesn’t look right with my ever-expanding ‘muscular’ ankles and calves (‘cankles’ for the ladies I believe).

Timberland is a brand of footwear that, although popular with the masses, makes very sturdy shoes across the range. So then, these Heritage 3-Eye Classic Lug deckies are the hybrid that makes the deck shoe ‘right’ again for the big boned, as the the yacht-friendly thin sole is swapped for a big old workman-boot chunky sole, job done . So the real bonus is that they will last longer that three pairs of Sperry or other lesser brands.

Albion 1 – 0 Sunderland

August 24, 2011

Nice game, shame about the photo

I decided to sample the delights of the North Stand last night, just to see how a match looks & sounds in the bleachers. Apologies for the shitty photo, but I hadn’t much time to concentrate on photography during this classic match. I miss the old banter of the North Stand lot, and the goal end view isn’t as bad as I thought it would be; in fact I’m sorely tempted to move my season ticket over there for next year.

What can you say about this game? Sunderland were as poor as they were when we met met them in the Algarve last summer, and judging by the amount of abuse Steve Bruce took off the mackems back then I’m as surprised as anyone he’s still manager today (that might change soon of course).

The first fifteen minutes were ours, then Sunderland edged the rest of the first half, just. The second half was an ode to Gus Poyet, his way of playing football has truly come of age, and Brighton & Hove Albion are back in the big time, no doubt about it. Facing a team of World Cup players, internationals, ex-Man Utd stalwarts and, er, Anton Ferdinand, we were undaunted and gave them a right runaround. For want of better finishing/better luck this game wouldn’t even have reached extra-time.

We hit the post, had a penalty disallowed (although most people now admit Calderon dived and deserved his booking) and with Craig Noone destroying them from both wings the impressive 1205-for-a-Tuesday-night away contingent were one glum-looking bunch. Everyone had a good game, but most impressive were Dunk, Calderon, a very impressive return for Alan Navarro, Bridcutt, new boy Ryan Harley, CMS, Barnes, and our story of the season so far – Craig Noone. Having both Bridcutt and Navarro on the pitch was great, our passing was the neatest I’ve seen so far this season as a result, and just when Sunderland had had enough of tricky run-at-you wingers like Noone, LuaLua was brought on to torment them further. And people, we still have Buckley and Hoskins to add to this team, what an attacking midfield we have at the club right now, unbelievable.

The goal in extra-time was worth the wait, Navarro crossing for CMS to nod home his third of the season. The only black marks were the injuries to both Greer and Vincelot, although the Frenchman is easier replaced than our big captain. Here’s hoping for an even bigger draw next round.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 8.5 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Craig Noone

Attendance: 17,019 (1,205 Mackems)

Albion 2 – 2 Blackpool

August 21, 2011

Disappointing as it was to throw away both a 100% winning record and a two goal lead, yesterday was all about a striking masterclass from a still very potent ex-International footballer. Kevin Phillips was the main reason the Albion didn’t win three points, it’s as simple as that.

Earlier yesterday I stuck £5 on Ashley Barnes at 40/1 to be the Championship’s top striker this season. A foolish bet some might think, but big Ash scored again yesterday, and only Phillips has scored more so far. The big fella had another good game yesterday, haranguing, bustling and being the old-fashioned number nine that the old comic books used to love. His partner Craig Mackail-Smith was even better, and scored a total peach of header for a striker – again like Kevin Phillips – who makes up for lack of height with strength of spring.

The Albion battered Blackpool in the first half, and fully deserved CMS’s goal after Dicker released the always threatening Craig Noone who put it on a sixpence on the noggin of CMS charging into the box. Gilks in the Blackpool goal had no chance, 1-0 and three sides of the Amex went wild. The rest of the half was more of the same with the four in midfield – Noone, Vincelot, Dicker, and the main man – Liam Bridcutt, taking the piss out of the recently Premier League-bothering visitors. I descended into the bar area of the East Stand just before the break in a fully satisfied mood.

Second half and the sun was blazing into the East, and we sat and fried as we watched our team go two up thanks to that man Barnes, then melted as Ian Holloway showed he is more than a media fool and switched 3 players simultaneously, changing the whole feel of the match. After that the Albion were on the back foot, and when Blackpool have a goal poacher of the pedigree of Phillips on the books the second half had an air of inevitability about it. A madman in a Brighton shirt and scarf was seen in the doorway of an RAF helicopter that appeared over the ground, fuck knows what that was about, but it was the only relief for the home fans in a torturous final half hour.

Us lot in the East have been ragged for being too quiet so far during games, and just when the whole stand got up to lead a song Phillips rose and headed one in. We need to keep quiet in the sunshine seats from now on methinks. After that the cavalry charge came in waves, and the tangerine army to our left found their voices at last. The sickener came in the last minute of the 90 when we only cleared to Phillips who volleyed a beautiful goal that went straight through everyone into the onion bag.

The donkey lashers went mental, and a few of them – one of whom was oddly in his sock soles – mounted a mini-pitch invasion, which the stewards thankfully treated as the harmless expression of sheer joy it was. They deserved it in my opinion, we invited Blackpool to attack us, and I think Poyet changing LuaLua for Noone, and putting on yet another defensive midfielder in Navarro was the wrong move. Holloway won this tactical game, although his team didn’t deserve more than a draw. Ten points from the first four games is an amazing achievement, and nothing that happened yesterday has me worrying about our season yet.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 7 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Liam Bridcutt

Attendance: 19,494

Npower Championship table

Saturday, 20 August 2011 19:20 UK
P GD PTS
1 Southampton 4 7 12
2 Derby 4 6 12

3 Brighton 4 4 10
4 Crystal Palace 4 3 9
5 Peterborough 4 6 7
6 Middlesbrough 3 3 7

7 Cardiff 4 1 7
8 Blackpool 4 1 7
9 West Ham 3 4 6
10 Millwall 4 1 5
11 Portsmouth 4 0 5
12 Nott’m Forest 4 -1 5
13 Reading 4 0 4
14 Leicester 4 -2 4
15 Barnsley 4 -2 4
16 Bristol City 4 -4 4
17 Leeds 3 0 3
18 Birmingham 2 0 3
19 Hull 4 -4 3
20 Ipswich 4 -7 3
21 Burnley 3 -2 2

22 Watford 4 -5 2
23 Coventry 4 -3 1
24 Doncaster 4 -6 0
Full Championship table

Cardiff 1 – 3 Albion

August 18, 2011

A properly head-staggering start to this 2011-12 Championship campaign. Form, reputation, status, home advantage, they all mean nothing so far. After Southampton hit 5 at Ipswich on Tuesday night we had  big boots to fill, and fill them we did.

I didn’t make the long trip to Wales, and listened in on BBC Radio FiveLive, it’s not often Brighton & Hove Albion are featured on there, to say the least. But people are starting to sit up and take notice of this Gus Poyet side, even Steve Claridge had to admit we totally out-thought and out-played a team that last season narrowly missed out on promotion to the biggest league of them all. It’s a mad football world in the second tier of the English game.

I’ve added this video of last night’s goals, check out Ash Barnes’s first goal, a beaut, both he and CMS sounded as if they were on fire on the radio, and the away support drowned out the Taffs. Thanks to NSC poster Brighton4Cambridge3 for capturing it off his telly. Roll on Saturday, the momentum we have carried over from being Champions of League One will run out of steam sometime, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

Npower Championship table
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 21:59 UK
P GD PTS
1 Southampton 3 6 9
2 Brighton 3 4 9

3 Derby 3 3 9
4 Middlesbrough 3 3 7
5 West Ham 3 4 6
6 Crystal Palace 3 2 6

7 Cardiff 3 1 6
8 Blackpool 3 1 6
9 Millwall 3 2 5
10 Reading 3 1 4
11 Peterborough 3 0 4
12 Portsmouth 3 0 4
13 Nott’m Forest 3 -1 4
14 Leeds 3 0 3
15 Birmingham 2 0 3
16 Ipswich 3 -1 3
17 Leicester 3 -2 3
18 Hull 3 -3 3
19 Bristol City 3 -4 3
20 Burnley 2 -2 1
21 Barnsley 3 -3 1

22 Watford 3 -5 1
23 Coventry 3 -3 0
24 Doncaster 3 -3 0

Portsmouth 0 – 1 Albion

August 15, 2011

Always a good awayday is Pompey. There’s a plethora of pre-match pubs to choose from, from the glittering Gunwharf Quays to rundown Fratton itself, a tipple for anyone’s taste. Then there’s the always lively match, accompanied by the local loathing of anything foreign – i.e. anything north, east and west of the M27. But on Saturday the famous Fratton Park roar was strangely subdued, but then Portsmouth were wary of the Albion after we dispatched them in some style from the FA Cup last year, a competition that they had started to take for granted recently.

A big noisy crowd of Albionites made the short trip west on the rattler, and they pretty much outsong Pompey all match, I didn’t hear that bloody bell once, a small blessing. The team started slowly, and soon we were grinding down Portsmouth with our passing game. That’s not to say they didn’t have chances, they made the most of the short spells when we gave away possession, but Casper Ankergren had a fine game, one of his best. Buckley went off injured in the first half, but in Gus Poyet’s team we have plenty exciting wingers, and Nooney was more than ample cover.

As is my wont, I went for a slash just before half-time and missed Craig Mackail-Smith’s first goal for the stripes. I saw it on the Football League show yesterday, a mild tap-in after some stirling work from Noone and then Barnes. Second half was more of the same – lots of Gordon Greer inspired Albion possession, and a few chances at either end when the tappy stuff broke down into proper derby day antics. Pompey didn’t really put sustained pressure on our goal until after 80 minutes, and that sinking feeling arrived in spades when Dunk clearly handled in the area when the match was on the blow. That really got the locals going, rabid they were in their gesticulating at us. But, penalties aren’t what they used to be, ask any Brighton fan after our misses last year. And Portsmouth hit the post, then the rebound shot was gathered brilliantly by big Casper. Game over.

This performance was down to the middle spine of the team, Ankergren, Greer (man of the match), Bridcutt then CMS up front were our best players, and add Noone on there. But the whole team had a good-ish day to be fair, the machine was in fine working order.

The result sent the skates into paroxysms on the final whistle, and the walk back to Fratton Station was good fun, it was handbags as a few 7.14 (well they’re a bit late to be real 6.57) tried to pop a few of our lads in the narrow street. There were a few handy Brighton boys in the crowd and much co-ordinated pavement dancing ensued, although not one punch was landed by either side. The plod shit themselves, thinking it was akin to the recent Tottenham rioting, but it caused no amount of mirth among us onlookers, what a shit so-called ‘firm’ that was. All a bit stupid and pointless really. So, another satisfying day away from Sussex, early doors of course in this new campaign, but you can’t argue with maximum points.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 8 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Gordon Greer

Attendance: 16,496

Npower Championship table
Sunday, 14 August 2011 17:03 UK

P GD PTS
1 Cardiff 2 3 6
2 Southampton 2 3 6

3 Blackpool 2 2 6
4 Brighton 2 2 6
5 Derby 2 2 6
6 Millwall 2 2 4

7 Reading 2 2 4
8 Middlesbrough 2 1 4
9 Ipswich 2 2 3
10 Crystal Palace 2 1 3
11 Peterborough 2 0 3
12 Birmingham 2 0 3
13 Hull 2 0 3
14 West Ham 2 0 3
15 Leicester 2 -1 3
16 Portsmouth 2 -1 1
17 Watford 2 -1 1
18 Barnsley 2 -1 1
19 Burnley 2 -2 1
20 Nott’m Forest 2 -2 1
21 Doncaster 2 -2 0

22 Coventry 2 -2 0
23 Leeds 2 -3 0
24 Bristol City 2 -5 0

Albion 1 – 0 Gillingham

August 10, 2011

Trip the light fantastic

A fairly inauspicious start to what may yet turn out to be a classic Abion cup run. But another historic night as the first game under floodlights was played at Falmer, shame the match didn’t dazzle the senses.

Before I speak about the match I have to mention the journey to and back from Falmer. As there were only 16,295 souls at the game, 1328 of whom travelled from Gillingham, you’d expect less of a crush getting there. Not a bit of it. I changed tactics and decided to have a beer in Hove, then catch the train from there instead of Brighton itself. When the train rumbled in from Portslade it was already chocka, we had to force our way onto a sweaty, smelly feet and BO stinking and cramped cattle truck. I couldn’t move my arms for the short hop to Brighton.

When we scrambled onto the Falmer train it was the same sketch, hot & horrible & dangerously overcrowded, with some very anxious looking old people and small kids stuck in the mix, this isn’t good enough. On the way back we took one look at the humongous queue for the trains home and decided to interlope into the bus queue. Luckily enough a number 25 pulled up, already half-full with bewildered foreign university students, to exactly where me and my pal were stood in the throng. But we still had to sharp elbow it onto the coach. Again, this is a bad accident waiting to happen. Brighton & Hove Council and Southern Railway need to get together and put on bigger trains and more buses. Sort it out.

The match started well for the Albion, dominating a typically hoof-balling League Two side in our erstwhile landlords. Their almost cockney fans must be affected with the same malaise as their rioting city cousins in the capital, they’re a bad tempered lot. The main reason was the little fat ref, who to be fair to him, was crap, and did none of the two teams any favours. How it stayed 0-0 at half-time was down to the stubborn and sometimes ruthless physical defending by the visitors.

Second half and the Albion just stopped playing, that’s all I can say, not bad enough to make Gills a danger, but enough to make for a poor 45 minutes of football. Will Buckley’s penalty was the one incident where the over-gobby Gills fans had a point about the dodgy ref, it wasn’t one, there was no contact from where I was sitting. But hey ho, we’ll take any offered, and Barnes put it away with panache. The game died out after that, apart from some nasty Gillingham fouling, but this Albion team will have to get used to that now that everyone knows how we play. Shit game or no, this win sets up a potential ‘Big Club’ opponent next round, so I’m not that annoyed.

Best players were new boy Romain Vincelot, a tricky looking character, the ever-dependable Greer, Barnes battled hard but didn’t get enough chances, Buckley again impressed, but my man of the match was Craig Noone, the lanky scouser has been a revelation right at the start of this season.

Apologies about the poor quality of my phots, but I couldn’t be arsed to lug my usual camera up to Falmer last night so used my HTC phone instead, it would have been crushed in the rush to get there and home anyway. See you at Pompey Saturday.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 6.5 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Craig Noone

Attendance: 16,295 (1328 Gillingham)

Albion 2 – 1 Doncaster

August 7, 2011

If this is what a typical football day out with the Albion is going to be like then I will be frazzled come April 2012. This opening ‘proper’ game had just about everything. A 20,000 plus gate, wall to wall fan noise and colour, reckless tackles, a manager getting sent off, weird bookings, and two pieces of footballing genius that would grace any level of the game.

If you haven’t set your freeview box to tape The Football league Show series, you’re doing yourself an injustice, failing that watch the fucker live late on Saturday nights, last night’s was a cracker.

Yesterday downtown pre-match was again a pain in the arse, pubs were letting one-in-one-out at one point. The trains pulling out en-route to Falmer were so rammed with Albion fans (and the odd Rovers fan), that it felt like a railway scene from Gandhi. The expectation was everywhere in and around the stadium. We took our seats and it was like cup final day, check out these phone photos. It was so tense in there that I think it rattled both teams on the park.

Donny dominated the first half possession, and if this is a team – long injury list notwithstanding – tipped for the drop to League One, then the Albion will have a fight on every single game. The referee also seemed rattled, and he wasn’t doing either team any favours. His booking of LuaLua for diving in the box was laughable, and I didn’t need to reaffirm that opinion watching the TV replay this morning. Poyet dropped an egg after that and foolishly pegged down the line miles from his technical area to abuse the officials – off he went. Doncaster opened the scoring after Gary Dicker gave the ball away cheaply in the centre circle and Billy Sharp slotted it luckily under the diving Ankergren.  Hefty challenges were going in, but although the one that rather upsettingly has left Rovers’ top striker Sharp with three separate fractures wasn’t the worst looking, it was still a nasty, clumsy tackle from Lewis Dunk anyway you want to look at it, and I feel really sorry for Sharp, rotten luck.

Second half and Albion started to dominate slowly, although I would have settled for a draw at this point. Step up the terrible twins – Craig Noone and Will Buckley. When these two came on they totally outran and out-foxed a quickly tiring visiting side. Buckley’s low drive for the first was only bettered by a fucking beautiful bit of skill from Nooney to put Buckley through for his second, the time on the clock was 90+ minutes, but there was no ‘Fergie Time’ involved here, injuries and slow medical responses were the only really annoying thing about the whole game, instead of the seven given it could easily have been ten minutes added on. I noticed that around me in the East Stand – already marked out as the ‘quiet stand’ – old boys and kids were dancing around like loons, it really was that good an atmosphere. Gillingham on Tuesday night will be an anti-climax compared to this one, I’ll not forget this game for a long time. Cheers.

The Hovian’s Team performance : 8 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match : Will Buckley

Attendance: 20,219

Npower Championship table
Saturday, 6 August 2011 19:20 UK
P GD PTS
1 Ipswich 1 3 3
2 Southampton 1 2 3

3 Brighton 1 1 3
4 Derby 1 1 3
5 Peterborough 1 1 3
6 Blackpool 1 1 3

7 Leicester 1 1 3
8 Burnley 1 0 1
9 Middlesbrough 1 0 1
10 Millwall 1 0 1
11 Portsmouth 1 0 1
12 Reading 1 0 1
13 Watford 1 0 1
14 Barnsley 1 0 1
15 Nott’m Forest 1 0 1
16 Cardiff 0 0 0
17 West Ham 0 0 0
18 Birmingham 1 -1 0
19 Crystal Palace 1 -1 0
20 Doncaster 1 -1 0
21 Coventry 1 -1 0

22 Hull 1 -1 0
23 Leeds 1 -2 0
24 Bristol City 1 -3 0

TSLR 31

August 4, 2011

TSLR sellers of the world unite

New season, new look TSLR. As Brighton & Hove Albion FC moves into their new ultra-modern all-seater stadium on the edge of the South Downs, one old tradition will move in with it – the unofficial club fanzine. The Seagull Love Review has been re-vamped – new printers you see – and is bumper full of old columnists and a few new faces. Yours truly is back with a column and a bit of cartooning, and all this still for only ONE POUND. I’ve had a sneak preview of the latest issue online and it’s a belter.

TSLR sellers will be outside the ground on Saturday and about on the stadium concourses, so the editors are expecting to shift a lot more copies at Falmer than were shifted at the Theatre of Trees with its crowds of under 7000. Please support your one and only fans’ magazine, it’s an important part of fandom and football culture and will only get better the more it gets out there. If you can’t get to matches the fanzine can be bought online on the TSLR blog.