Archive for the ‘Pre-season Friendlies’ Category

Hastings United 3 – 2 Albion

July 23, 2012

It won’t be much of a match report this post, as I only watched 30 odd minutes of it. That was due to it being a lovely day and wanting to have a good drink. I never even saw a goal go in. To be fair a lot of the reason for this total lack of commitment to football spectating was down to the daft interpretation of Football League Rule “Thou shalt not be able to see a football being kicked whilst thou hast a pint of ale in one’s mitt”. I don’t know whether Hastings themselves or some shady representative from the professional game decided to enforce this rule – but the whole point of non-league football is that you get treated like an adult and can have a beer while watching the game, without hi-vis bellends and the Polis breathing down your neck.

The bar at The Pilot Field looks out over the pitch, it has three windows, but only two roller blinds. I decided to roll up the two as the teams came out and the hapless stewards were on me in a flash. A small mob of similarly thirsty fans gathered around the one remaining outlook only to have the biggest steward literally stand in front of it and extend his arms in case the sight of a footballer doing his job might send us all into a drunken, rampaging mob.  So you had the spectacle of beer-drinking fans, young and old, trying to peer over a big bloke in hi-vis to see glimpses of the game outside, while he ducked about like Bruce Grobbelaar in a penalty shootout trying to block their view. A farce. So, after downing my lager I went outside to watch the remaining first half in the sunshine.

At half-time the bar filled again, and the three of us made the decision to bin the football, Vicente and all, and head down to the Old Town and “get on it properly”. And that’s how my first match of the 2012-13 season ended – in a haze of quaint old pubs and, after a train journey back to Brighton, another flurry of ale. Game over. I’m still suffering this morning.

To Hastings, and making a STAND Against Modern Football

July 19, 2012

A Morris Dancer free zone

I’m itching to get over to the east of East Sussex for this one, it’s been ages since I’ve seen the old pig’s bladder being kicked about. I have quite a few in-laws from around the Hastings area, but they’ve no interest in football; odd lot over there, but great place for a bevvie, especially the Old Town.

I’ll take the old Panasonic with me, so I can capture a few daguerreotypes to put up here, and a Hovian trademarked BHAFC match report – if I can stay sober enough to shoot phots that is.

In other news – the peasants are revolting. There’s a new paper football fanzine, unlike anything you’ve read before, being stuck together for publishing as we speak. It’s called “Stand – Against Modern Football” and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Even better, yours truly has an article in there, all about…..well, you’ll just have to buy it and see. The co-editors are (drinking) pals of mine, who are already in the business of magazines and fanzines, so it’s not some bodge job. You can check it all out on their Twitter @standamf, Facebook, and their blog. Sabotage Times have done a good write up here as well.

The boys at Stand have got 1200+ followers already on the old Twitter, so there is momentum behind this venture – after all, it’s our game and they are fucking us over, enough is enough – time to make a STAND.

The fanzine will be available to buy online only at this stage, stay tuned here or at @TheHovian to find out more.


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

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.

Albion 1 – 0 Aberdeen

August 1, 2010

Great little game this, played in front of a tiny crowd at Withers. What’s wrong with people? It was only a tenner a ticket for this one, I would have thought a bit of relief away from the summer shops and/or the wife and kids would have been more attractive, especially in this weather. Anyway.

I was sitting, probably for the last time ever, over in the North Stand. The tired old arena looks odd from this viewpoint, but ‘The Theatre of Trees’ was probably named by some wag North Stand regular, as the ground looks like it’s been cleared from some encroaching temperate jungle from here.

Mark McGhee got a more than affectionate welcome from both sides of Withdean when he appeared onto a pitch he knows so well, and the few hundred travelling Aberdeen fans sat in the East Stands appreciated the applause.

In our Portugal match against Portimonense we were given a bit of a lesson before the match was abandoned. Yesterday, just like against Sunderland over there, the team showed that when we play against typically British kick-and-rush exponents we look classy, continental even.

Aberdeen, a team with an impeccable (though distant) pedigree in Europe, looked very ordinary. The best gauge to measure how your team is doing is to watch the opposition fans in the stands. I was miles away from Blocks T and U, but I could still see a few jocks getting very shirty near the end of this game.

I don’t want to get carried away, but surely this team will perform in League One this year? The bookies fancy us to do well, if we keep relatively injury-free we should be thereabouts come May 2011.

The outstanding players yesterday were mostly in midfield. Bennett hit his trademark screamer, Sparrow and Navarro were neat and effective, especially Navs, who is a brilliant little campaigner. When our subs were made Gary Dicker was superb, giving Poyet headaches for selection this year. ‘Chino’ Baz is a player who gets the lovers of all things flair drooling at the mouth, his attempted overhead scissor kick was outrageous, pure class.

But it’s toss up between old man Kishishev and young urchin Jamie Smith for my man of the match. Kish is a wily old pro, if his legs hold up he will be making headlines regularly this season. Jamie Smith doesn’t look like a footballer – he’s an odd shape, has bouncy hair and is carrying a bit of puppy fat – but his close ball skills are as good as anybody’s and he gave Aberdeen all sorts of problems yesterday. So Smith just edges Kishishev for Man of the Match.

I’m annoyed that I’m missing the trip to Swindon next Saturday, as they will be a big test of this exciting new team. Relegation will not be an issue for the Albion this time around, nor do I think we will be headed for mid-table mediocrity, how far we do go is anybody’s guess, but I think we have the staff and playing style to go very far indeed.

The Hovian’s Team performance :  9 out 10

The Hovian’s Man of the Match :  Jamie Smith

Albion Team (goalscorers in bold) :

(4-5-1)Poke (Walker 77); Calderon (Whing 77), Elphick, Greer, Painter; Navarro (Battipiedi 77), Kishishev (Dicker 69), Sparrow; Smith (Baz 77), Barnes (Murray 77), Bennett (Holroyd 77).

Attendance: 2812 (516 Aberdeen)

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.