26 August 2015


Last night's result at Walsall was perfect in the end. Maybe not as perfect as our last visit (above) - and I don't suppose the 400-odd hearty souls who travelled will agree. But, just think of the hours that will be saved in not having to prepare for a defeat in the next round against Chelsea. Let's face it, the only decent thing about the Tottenham League Cup match last season was taking a selfie with Leonardo Ulloa whilst hanging out in the away stand.

Maybe it's because I was born in 1984 - a year after the club's FA Cup final - that I have never cared much for a cup run. Perhaps it is due to the seemingly endless Auto Windscreen Shield matches or the fact Albion tend to back up a giant-killing with a loss to a lower league team in the subsequent round. Maybe it was Canvey Island?

I have always wondered - and one day maybe I'll do the maths - just how many playing hours the club has wasted winning LITERALLY NOTHING in fruitless cup ties down the years. In 1908, Albion played three matches in one FA Cup round against Preston. We lost the second replay, at least six wins away from a final.

How many hours have we wasted playing games? Even if we had played just two cup games a season throughout history, that's almost 20,000 hours of playing time we'll never get back. And when you start to factor in travel time, pre-match training and extra time, the hours to trophy ratio just keeps getting worse.

And how much has it cost the club throughout history to win one Jewish Chronicle Cup and a few Sussex Seniors? How much did it cost to put up our squad in the Walsall Village Hotel & Leisure Club on Monday night? How many coach petrol tanks have we emptied trying to secure a place in the next round of the Micky Mouse Trophy in Gillingham? It all just costs money and time we will never get back. And what for? One cup final, a southern area JPT final and a load of heartbreak.

There was a year when Albion forgot to apply for the FA Cup (I forget when, before my time) and had to go through the qualifying rounds. I suggest that, from next season, we simply withdraw from all cup competitions. They are literally a waste of all of our lives. And we will never win nothing. Sure, the league trophies to playing hours ratio isn't great, but it's better than 0 in 20,000 (well, the Jewish Chronicle was a pre-season cup and the Sussex Senior is for the reserve team).

7 August 2015


Over the years it has become clearer and clearer that attending pre-season friendlies is a waste of your life. That is, unless you incorporate it into a hilarious drunken trip abroad, paying over £500 for an overinflated short holiday in the hope of getting a selfie with Beram Kayal to impress your friends on Instagram. These trips can be enhanced massively when your Spanish speaking accomplices use another language to tell Calde that we love him or if a mid-match full blown squad dust-up causes a ‘friendly’ to be abandoned. But when the pre-season friendly is at Crawley - and nobody really cares about the result, not even the players - it really isn’t fun. Tonight’s visit of the Merry Men of Nottingham represents an end to the ‘are we any good? debate stoked by wasting time playing teams over the summer that bear little resemblance to Division 2 rivals.
Having completely exonerated myself from pre-season duties, I get to see the new players tonight for the first time. Will Niki Mäenpää be the most complete Finn since Hyypiä? Does he smoke Marlboro Lights? Could Tomer Hemed be a more lucrative striker than Chris O'Grady? Can Hemed and Kayal attack opposition teams like the IDF? Will Gaetan Bong live up to the legendary status his name inspires? Is Jack Harper the new Vitalijs Maksimento? Is Vahid Hambo (that hunk, above) really the new Ibrahimovic? Plus, not only could we find out some answers, we get to spend the whole match saying to our next seat neighbour, ‘who on earth is number 23?’ (Liam Rosenior, if anyone asks).

When it was just a field, we all knew this place would be special. It had a special place in our hearts before a brick had been laid, quite simply because of the battle it took. It has since somehow embedded its way deeper into my heart. I only saw it once over the summer - on a dog walk at Stanmer Park - and even from afar, it was beautiful. Tonight I will immerse myself in its inner beauty for the first time in a couple of months and, right then, I’ll feel back at my rightful home. It was tarnished slightlyby that Play-Off match awhile back, but time is a great healer and I can’t wait to be back.

Some of my best friends are Albion fans. And yet, despite them being amongst my best, there are a fair few who I only speak to from early August until early May (sometimes a little further into May but not often). It means that in most of May and all of June and July every year, these people barely exist. Tonight, they will re-enter my consciousness, and stay there until May. I love these guys, but do I care all summer? Nope.
Good design? Yep. Good selection of former Albion players? Yep. Some wonderful stories from Albion fans? Yep. Are we talking about a new issue of TSLR? Unfortunately not. We’re talking about the new legends wall at Falmer. Let’s be honest, it looks absolutely brilliant. It’s something done by the club that has two elements they have always struggled to deliver: a) decent design that you would actually fork out £20 for a t-shirt for and b) well publicised. I watched all the posters get unveiled on Twitter and was very impressed with the way the club maintained my interest on social media for the whole night. They should also be given credit for when Bobby Zamora almost broke the Internet last week (well, Twitter anyway).

I’m a big fan of professional cycling and can easily pass a few hours watching cricket or ice hockey, but football is the one. And don’t get me started on some of the tripe I’ve watched this summer. Tennis, golf, various racing (in water, on roads in EPO fuelled athletics tracks, on horse or dog tracks, with engines, without engines, basically it’s just who goes faster), hockey and even netball was on the news this morning. If sports were people, then football would be my wife. And I love her dearly. And she’s been on a business trip too long. And this analogy has gone too far now.
Don’t worry, I’m not actually stalking players in real life. No, I’m doing it online. That’s fine, right? I have spent far too much time going shopping with Danny Holla’s wife on Instagram (lovely though she and her friends appear to be in a carefully managed snapshot update that accounts for about 24 hours of their lives). Only last night I was watching our Israelis getting their haircuts together. I am so obsessed with the squad I was happy to watch them throughout the summer muddle on with their dull little lives. Maybe if we can all concentrate on football then I don’t have to get excited watching David Stockdale Tweet a link to buy his football gloves every night.

OK, so I’m completely taking the Micky Adams now. But seriously, I am looking forward to seeing if Hughton’s actual brand of football dullness could possibly bore other teams into submission and give us an unlikely spot in the play-offs. It will certainly help that we’re not in the bottom three when he starts this time, and he does have a track record (so I’m told, I can’t be bothered to Google whether his Newcastle and Norwich sides won 1-0 a lot but I’m sure they did) of delivering results. Yes, the flair may not be there, but then we had ten years’ worth of excitement in this category during one magical Vicente season. It's time for cardigans now.
For us non-Brightonians - or the ones who only go to the town centre! - this is a chance to see whether all those t-shirts modelled online actually look that bad. A chance to buy two new away kits at even more ridiculously high prices than ever - even though you’ve only just bought an away kit last season. A chance to buy some overpriced cheap tat because it has an Albion logo on it and you know damn well we’re trying to get in line with FFP yet still want a goalscorers who can bag 20 goals a season. A chance to routinely waste my pocket money, like I did in in a Portakabin at the back of the Goldstone (though my pocket money is now referred to as ‘wages’) and love it. Perhaps I don’t know why it’s so golden but that opening match visit to the club shop is still special. And always will be. Though, if it’s fashion sense you’re after, best get along to the TSLR TAT BOUTIQUE.
#10 #25
Is there anything more that could be said about the return of the Chosen One? As my co-editor put it on Twitter the other night, a whole lot of Brighton fans ‘lost their shit’ after the late night announcement last week when Bobby Zamora trended on social media and I wet myself instead of going to bed. I always hoped this day would come and now it has. As someone on Twitter with a cleverer and wittier mind than mine said, even if Bobby is injured or rubbish all season it doesn’t matter because he came home. It’s the second best homecoming since that Nottingham Forest friendly at Withdean brought an end to Saturday forays into Kent. He is on the programme cover, he will be unveiled to teh crowd and I might just cry. Fatter and older. But Bobby just the same. For all our thoughts on the Bobby return, simply read this fabulous blog post on NSC. And the best thing about it all? This photo doing the rounds has MALCOLM STEWART in the background.

21 April 2015


As we approach the end of a rather disheartening season, the question on nobody’s lips is this - how will the TSLR end of season survey reflect on any highlights? The job of a fanzine is to turn abject football into hilarious copy. Now this may not quite be hilarious but, to whet your appetite and get your creative juices flowing, here are my choice highlights of the season so far. We heard the official verdict at last night’s awards dinner (well done, Mr Calde) but I thought I’d have a go at being nominator, awarder and, most importantly, heckler.
Moment of the season
When Leonardo Ulloa was spotted amongst the travelling Albionites at White Hart Lane, the whole place lifted. You can see the elation etched on everyone's faces. Having watched an Albion first half performance that was actually possibly even more negative than anything under Oscar, and having found out we couldn’t buy half time beers with a bank card, the away end was subdued. But in spotting Leonardo - hiding surreptitiously beneath a woolly hat - the whole crowd went apoplectic. Forgotten were the weird formations of Sami. Forgotten was the lack of logic in losing Oscar, and maybe even Gus before him. Forgotten was the fact that a top flight club couldn’t serve us beers in return for a credit card payment in a cramped football ground of former glory. All we needed was the chosen one to shake our hands, and receive our belated congratulations for that moment at Forest. The only upset person was the steward, hopelessly tempting people back to their seats for the second half.

Second best moment of the season
That will be the moment that Hyypiä was finally FINNISHed. Thank goodness for that.

Another great moment that could come close
Chris O’Grady scoring an actual goal at Brentford in the FA Cup. The post-match interview still brings tears to my eyes as he recalls the pain of moving his family south, being continuously dropped and the relief of finally scoring a goal in the stripes.

Most exciting moment at Falmer this season
Just before Sami finally got the boot, a rather heated exchange of views in the North Stand saw a group of thick set blokes descend on a young lad and his mum. Stay classy, Albionites. This banner had something to do with it. It was, safe to say, the most exciting moment of the season. Stewards were called and hearts were racing.

Goal of the season
It’s pointless anyone picking a shortlist for this one. Rohan Ince away at Swindon. Done. And to think that, even after that, Ince wasn’t Sami’s first choice defensive midfielder. In fact, was anyone Sami’s first choice anything? To be fair to Ince’s wonderstrike, the most heartfelt goal of the season was when Iñigo scored with his beard in front of the North, in honour of Andy Crosby’s ear at the Withers.

Manager of the season
For once, the 2014-15 category for manager of the season has a wealth of applicants. There was Sami Hyypiä (I’ll give you a clue, no), there was Chris Hughton (I’ll give you a clue… yawn) and there was Nathan Jones’ glittering caretaker spell. Of course, had we given Jonesy the job permanently we’d probably be even more in the mire right now. After the Fulham game, Nathan’s post-match interview was glorious, better than O’Grady’s? Perhaps? He was spot on though - is there anything better than a cider and a ‘girlfriend’ after an Albion win? No.

Interview of the season
Well since Hughton got involved, these have been a masterclass in making Oscar Garcia’s interviews look as exciting as signing Bobby Z again last summer. Three stand out - there was the O’Grady one after Brentford, the Nathan Jones one after Fulham and the Sami Hyypiä one, before and after every single game he was in charge. The prize has to go to the latter, simply because he undertook the same interview at least 27 times. And in all of them, he reminded us that his Leverkusen team beat Bayern Munich away once when nobody gave them a chance, and that he couldn’t for the life of him understand why his Albion side couldn’t buy a win.

Game of the season
There’s only one really - that under-20 rugby match in which everyone present could have a beer in full view of the pitch. And all without the use of a surreptitious coffee cup filled with Strongbow too. Plus, we get to do it all over again this summer. Though that is another late nomination for game of the season, there’s always Millwall’s loss tonight…

Own goal of the season
That one at Blackburn - amazing for two reasons: one, we got a much needed away goal and, two, we get to bring up Colin Hawkins.

Social media guru of the season
There can only be one winner. Kemy Agustien is fanzine gold in many ways: his weight, his inability to get picked for anything other than the under 21’s, his numerous run-ins with the law, and his wonderful ability to supplement all the previous reasons by outlandishly ranting at Albion fans on Twitter. Kemy also picks up the coveted Robert Codner Award for Being in Trouble with the Police, and the Warren Aspinall Award for Largest Waistline at the club.

So there we have it. Keep your eyes peeled for our end of season survey questions that we will be publishing on this very blog soon. We will then be publishing the best of the answers over the summer to remind you of the season that is thankfully now almost over. If you have any of your own suggestions for 2014-15 season awards, get in touch!

17 April 2015


Last week my work was interrupted by a phone call. The voice whispered down the line: ‘listen to Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 (whcih you can by clicking HERE)’. It wasn’t the most scary of phone calls I’ve received, to be honest, but it did leave me somewhat perplexed.

20 minutes later, it all made sense. It turns out that ‘Brighton and Hove Albion football club have been giving its players training in issues around sexual consent’. Radio 4 told me that the club is one of the first football teams to provide assistance around this issue, notably in the wake of ‘voyeurgate’ (though it wasn’t referred to as that). The club’s head of education and welfare is a woman called Sue Parris who spoke rather well about why we are doing this and how hard it can be for kids in professional football set-ups to grow up in an atmosphere surely plagued by the likes of Kemy Agustien. The Women’s Hour slot also heard from Chike Kandi - one of our youth teamers (previously of Chelsea, of course) - about the lessons.

Two things for me really stood out in hearing this, and both were a little surprising. Firstly, it is wonderful to see that we are addressing the problems that arose from our embarrassing 2013 court case, and looking to lead other clubs in this decent and strangely quite honourable move. Secondly, it is wonderful to see the club acting in a professional way - what with being interviewed on a national, highbrow radio station. Could the Withers-esque PR department finally be at an end?

On the first point, that shameful court case was the first real time in my life where I have hung my head in shame about the Albion (well, aside from losing to P****e, and perhaps a few choice games this season). Luckily for those Albion players (well, youth team players anyhow), they had each other as witnesses, and they had a decent well paid lawyer funded by the club, no doubt. The club could have looked even worse had the kids been proven guilty. But the whole case was one where, for perhaps the first time in my life, I didn’t shout to strangers about my blue and white blood.

I have never really spoken or thought about it since - or reflected on it for TSLR. In fact, I have spent the previous two years simply pretending it didn’t happen. Regardless of the verdict, the victim felt sufficiently upset to take her case to the high court, and she probably hasn’t had the luxury to spend the last two years simply forgetting about it. So to hear the club actively addressing this issue to prevent future incidences does make me slightly happier. This is not to say we didn’t make a mistake - only we appear to have begun to learn from it.

Secondly, one of the many jokes down the Falmer years has been that you can take the club out of Withdean, but you can’t take Withdean out of the club. We have lamented Albion’s backroom staff for years, from forgetting to install ticket office windows at the new ground to laughable customer service. But it actually appears to me that the club has at least begun to sort out its PR difficulties of the past. This was on actual national radio, and we were actually promoting a good initiative. I mean, all they have to do now is open the Club Museum to the public, and we can start using the word professional.

For one of the only times this season, well played the Albion.

14 April 2015


As yet another game passed by without an Albion goal this weekend, a figure was sent our way. Despite recent Tony Bloom protestations about it being Gus Poyet’s fault, nobody can deny that CMS has cost £119k per goal. This fact (and of course we haven’t checked it) was supplemented with another - that that figure is 83 times more than the cost of Bobby Zamora’s goals.

Now, this isn’t a fool proof way of analysing Albion striking performances of yesteryear. I mean, it doesn’t factor in that Bobby was really very reasonably priced due to the other attacking options available to Ian Holloway at Brizzle Rivers at the time. It also doesn’t factor in player wages because, quite frankly, football clubs don’t want you to know what players are actually paid (nor transfers really these days, ‘undisclosed’ has become a byword for ‘mind your own business’). Clubs especially don't want you to know how much has been wasted on the goalscorers who don’t even score.
So what of the other Albion forwards? Well, as I have done no research for this apart from being part of an inventively titled Albion WhatsApp group (you know who you are, Fitz Gandalf’s BantCartel), I’m relying on others and who they bothered to look up and do the maths on. We all very well know what a bargain Gary Hart was but his goals per pound ration was ridiculously good. In fact, each one of his goals was cheaper than a match ticket at Falmer - just £23.26.

Leon Knight's goals cost £3,125 apiece, but then it's much easier to score penalties, and that amount of money per goal may be decent - but was it worth dealing with his attitude? Looking further back, Jason Peake supposedly cost £120k for his only goal, so at least CMS isn't quite that bad.
Craig Maskell was £1,818 per goal, but those were in much leaner times for the football club. Maskell's would have been well worth the money we ended up saving by not being relegated to the Conference in 1997. One wise member of the group suggested that Maskell’s goals would have become far cheaper had they ‘moved the goal into the car park’. Ashley Barnes’ goals cost £2,040 a piece and he has scored eight times since his move to Burnley (for £400k) so even his current goals per pound cost of £50k a pop is a bargain compared with CMS. But then, nobody was sniffing around CMS in the January before his Albion contract expired.

Someone made the point about Mr Barnes that we also got £400k back to make his goals cheaper, but then you could apply that logic to Zamora, and then the whole goals per pounds race would be over. Or would it? Leo Ulloa looks expensive on the face of it – £76,923 per goal. But then his sale price would have blown Bobby Z out of the water, maybe, if I could be bothered to do the maths. Plus can you really use this logic when that headed moment Ulloa delivered at Nottingham Forest last season was priceless? Glenn Murray’s goal tally cost £9,433 each, though that will never tell you quite how many times he had to get offside to pick up 53 club goals – his offside to goals ration was probably around 9:1.

So there we have it. Yes, perhaps we can’t score many goals at the moment. But then, Gary Hart aside, goals have never really been that cheap. And you could fill in a comment at the bottom telling me how cheap the goals were from every player who turned up at the Goldstone / Priestfield / Withers / Falmer on a free. And basically, none of it matters if you don’t account for wages. So, hopefully we’ll score tonight - then someone else’s goals might just get cheaper.

28 January 2015


Last year, I wrote a brief piece about how Sussex Police appeared to have changed their attitude towards the prosecution of homophobic offences at The Amex. It appears now, after the Brentford game on 17 January 2015, that perhaps that has changed again.

An Albion supporter in the South-West Stand was aware of repeated homophobic gestures made at the Brighton fans and had the presence of mind to not just notify the stewards, but to take photos and (according to their messages on Twitter) video of the event. They also commented that there were children in the area witnessing the abuse.

The two photos posted on Twitter are reproduced here:
According to the Twitter feed of the Albion's link officer to Sussex Police, the individual concerned was interviewed and 'dealt with' in custody. I queried what 'dealt with' meant and then reminded myself what the current Police, Crown Prosecution Service and FA standards are in this area.

The first document I found was from the Crown Prosecution Service, and was issued in conjunction with the Police, the FA, Stonewall, and 'Kick It Out'.

It clearly states: "there is no room in the eyes of the law for racist or homophobic abuse on the pitch or in the stands."

The second document I went to was the 'Prosecution Policy for Football Related Offences', again issued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

This document clearly states: "there will be a presumption of prosecution whenever there is sufficient evidence to bring offenders before a court on appropriate criminal charges," and: "where the line between humour and offensive behaviour is crossed then positive action will be taken."

I was therefore surprised to find that despite the clear evidence to prove what had happened, and despite the policy changes and messages of robust action, 'dealt with' meant that the outcome of this individual's 'banter' was a Section 5 Public Order Fixed Penalty Fine (usually a £60-90 fine). This was, according to Sussex Police, considered the most appropriate punishment based upon the individual's criminal history (NFD) and whether they admitted the offence (NFD). 

The guidance on Section 5 offences - claims that these penalties are to be used when 'low-level, anti-social and nuisance offending' has occurred. It is also used at the discretion of a constable, and does not require a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service, thereby rendering the CPS entirely ignorant of what has taken place, and unable to use their own policy to prosecute homophobic abuse, as per the terms of their own agreement with the Police.

In other words, Sussex Police exercised their discretion and decided that this offence wasn't serious enough to notify the CPS so as to allow them to consider whether they should prosecute the offender, and presumably without any reference to those who felt so offended as to report the event in the first place, exactly as Kick It Out and Football v Homophobia are encouraging us to do.

The battle to remove racism has come a long way and if the Brentford supporter had been using racially offensive language, would Sussex Police have used the same discretion? I don't know, but I doubt it.

If Sussex Police continue to exercise their own judgement in NOT referring homophobia to the Crown Prosecution Service, then the assumptions about the attitudes held by the decision-makers in Sussex Police will start to become uncomfortable."

Thanks to Dan Aitch again for this insightful article.

28 December 2014


Compared to pieces of colour-coded card that clap for you or outlawed flares, toilet rolls streaming on to the hallowed turf at any football match are, quite simply, more fun, less rehearsed and look bloody good. So imagine our disappointment when a TSLRite was recently prevented from taking a few toilet rolls into Falmer to decorate the pitch.

When I was 13 or thereabouts and the central part of the North Stand was my standing area of choice at the Goldstone, one toilet roll moment will live with me forever. The opposition eludes me but one particularly well targeted toile roll launched out of my hand and seemingly wrapped itself around the leg of the opposing ‘keeper. In my memory it took him minutes to disentangle himself from the offending paper. In reality, it was probably seconds. The ‘keeper cursed me and, for a few minutes at least, I was known as the youf who’d succeeded in beating the away ‘keeper.

But more than that, a stream of toilet roll at any football match is a sight to behold. Take the photo atop this blog. This was when Standard Liege managed to actually hold up a match. Though this was partly due to a fire having started in the stand - we're genuinely not encouraging that, just a bit of paper.

Of course, I personally think that a flare is the best thing to get any stadia rocking. During our seriously memorable penalty shoot-out FA Cup win at Woking a few seasons back, the pre-kick off flare was as electric as anything we saw on the pitch. Flares are outlawed and it’s a shame. But unfortunately we don’t live in South America and are instead dull fools that would rather not risk it. So very English, and so very embarrassing. But until the law changes on that front, we’ll just have to make do with toilet paper.

Come on Albion, I know the cleaners probably don’t like it, and I know it might annoy some players on the pitch, but let us please have some tissue paper.