I’ve always had a soft spot for Brighton, both generally and in football terms. As a part of the early 80s mod revival as a teenager, musically and stylistically, Brighton has always had something of a ‘pull’ for me. I had my stag weekend there (I doubt it still exists, but The Catfish Club was glorious, in a seedy, seafront location basement kind of way), lived just up the A27 for a few years and have visited many time since.
While working in Crawley a few years ago, I took a group of middle-aged American business people out for dinner in Brighton. After a pleasant evening spent eating, drinking and pointing out buildings that were older than their country, I finally lost their support just before midnight. I took them, cold and confused on a chilly February night, down to the beach at midnight, so we could stand at the waters edge, listening to that very unique sound of the Brighton sea, while I sang the opening notes of The Who’s ‘Love, Reign O’er Me’.
Understanding the draw of Brighton in footballing terms is a little harder, but I have a theory that it’s all to do with Panini. The younger ones amongst you may rightly question the relevance of flattened sandwiches, whereas those of you of a certain age will know immediately what I’m talking about. I think the reason I’ve always liked Brighton is connected to the fact that they were in the first division (oh for simpler times) at the right time for them to have been in my childhood sticker albums. Makes me all tingly and nostalgic to be honest. Whatever the reason, it surely wasn’t coincidence that I found myself watching Quadrophenia again last night, at least after Modders had found it on ITV4 and shared the good news on Facebook.
I’ve got a lot of good recent football-related memories with Brighton too. I never went to The Goldstone Ground, but made a number of trips to whatever that weird athletics track was called. My first trip there was monumental for a few reasons – it was the coldest night I can remember spending outside, let alone sitting watching a football match. It was also the night of the Barnes Brothers eating ice-cream, meeting Radar for the first time, and making up a chant with Buzzard Don and Crabby that still persists to this day (watch Quadrophenia and replace Mods with Dons and you’ll know the one).
On subsequent trips, I remember Izale being started, but then subbed after less than a minute to get round JPT squad rules, “can you tell us if we score” due to being in a different time zone to the match, the MooCamp flag looking cool, Punch showing off and scoring a worldy, the carvery on the Fizz Bus, the Silverstone seats, being abused by a solitary muppet and the players walking miles at the final whistle to come over and applaud us and still being unable to work out who was who.
So for all those reasons, I like Brighton. Add in Sammy and the battle of the Baldocks and I’m really looking forward to today’s game. It’s one of those where even in normal times we shouldn’t have a chance, but with our injuries and other urine-related suspensions (unique again 😉 ) then it really doesn’t look good on paper. We’re expecting a big crowd – they’re bringing about 7,000, we’ll have about 13,000, and that often works for us, as the bigger than usual away crowds don’t often make much noise. If we can stifle for a while and look to catch them on the break, then maybe we can take something from it. A point would be a great result, but anything but a win could leave us in the bottom three come 5pm, so the pressure will be significant on the players.
Sing loud – sing proud – Come On You Dons.