5 July 2016

MONARCH OF THE GLENN

Last summer, us Albionites were treated to the wonderful homecoming of Bobby Zamora. This summer we’re being treated to the wonderful homecoming of Glenn Murray. What exciting return can we expect next summer? Kurt Nogan?

When news filtered through to TSLR Towers last weekend, the race was on. Which issue did we publish the famous cut-out-and-keep Murray hand? After searching through the vault, we found it (TSLR028, in case you were wondering). Better than that, we found an electronic version to adorn the top of this very post.

When Albion let Muzza leave for free five years ago, I was gutted. When he signed for C*****l P****e later that summer, I was lived. But back then, I trusted in Gus - and if he felt Murray wasn’t worth the wonga, then who was I to argue? And I was confident that the money saved on Glenn’s contract would be better spent elsewhere.

Indeed it was. At the time, spending loads of money on Craig Mackail-Smith seemed the perfect response. CMS was the only player to score more goals (27) than Glenn Murray (22) during our 2010/11 Division 3 title winning season. So, in July 2011 there I was, wishing Murray the worst of luck at P****e and looking forward to witnessing CMS destroy away teams at our brand spanking new football ground.

I knew then that time would be a healer. And indeed it was. In fact, by the next summer things were already better, and we were far more positively reflective of Muzza’s contribution to the good ship Albion in this July 2012 post. And that was even after the famous #FFSMurray scoring against us incident.

I completely understand that some Albionites will forever hate Glenn for joining our rivals five years ago, and will always struggle to welcome him back. But it’s a great signing. After our lack of goals (two, precisely two, actually) ultimately cost us a place in the top flight last season, bringing in someone who knows where the net is will always be a great move.

Last year I analysed some Albion strikers and their goals to cost ratio. I worked out that - based on transfer fee only and not wages - CMS cost £119k for each goal he scored for the Albion. Gary Hart had been the cheapest of strikers I bothered looking up - at £23.26 per goal. The most expensive? Jason Peake's only goal cost us £120k. Muzza? Under £10k a pop.

And whatever you think of Glenn at 32 years old, if he has a 30-goal season for us next year, he’ll be an all-time top five Albion goalscorer. Right up there with Bobby. And, if it fires us into the top flight, he’ll be an all-time legend too. Despite his love of the scum up the A23 and the offside flag, there’s no denying the Cumbrian’s quality.

Welcome home, Muzza. Let’s hope for a decent cup draw this season - then maybe, just maybe, it’ll be some plonker at Selhurst saying ‘FFS Murray’ this time.

25 April 2016

MORE THAN 90 MINUTES


It was absolutely superb to join Charlton fans in their very valid protests at The Valley on Saturday. I was honoured to play a very small part in their good natured demonstration against their evil dictators. Sure, I may not be sat here writing this had the home team picked up three points*. But it was nice to remember that football doesn’t always begin and end with trying to win promotion.

No matter how far we escape from the memories of our own ownership battle of the 1990s, they will always resurface in another team’s hard luck. Other unscrupulous ‘owners’ will take other teams to the brink, and it always reminds me of how hard we had to fight. It doesn’t matter whether you dislike the team** going to the wall, we should always swallow our pride because, ultimately, we - the fans - must face these fools together.

We spend so much of our football supporting lives learning to hate - and actively hating - others. At the moment, I hate Burnley, and Derby. And I’m sure most of you do too. So, on the odd occasion we get to unite, it is something special. And we almost always unite with Charlton fans. They hate P****e, so do we. We both played ‘home’ games away from home. We both won fan-led battles against horrible people.

It was great to see so many Albionites involved in Saturday’s protest, and it always leaves me with such pride to see us join in and show solidarity to football supporters who need us. It happened to us so it should not have to happen to them. Let’s face it, beyond Mr Bloom, it could happen to us again. Whilst queuing for the train home, I spotted someone with an ‘Oyston out’ scarf. Solidarity: this is what we’re good at.

And we owe Charlton especially. The Addicks had their own laborious ownership battle that led them having to ground share with C*****l P****e (the horror, the horror) during the 1980s. When a consortium of supporters bought the club in 1984, the previous owners kept the Valley. When they finally got their home ground back, Greenwich Council refused planning permission for the renovations needed.

So, what did the Charltonites do? They created a political party, won support and seats in the 1990 council elections and put pressure on the council to get what they wanted. A model, successfully reimagined by a whole plethora of devastated Albion fans a decade later and beyond. They proved we could succeed, and we did. And look at us now.

Charlton back then proved fan-power could win. Albion did too. Charlton can do it again. And many other clubs will have to do it in future. That’s why we MUST support these protests. Yes, they may have been momentarily frustrating for the players in our promotion push. But these players won't be with us forever, they can cope (and cope well they did). It doesn't matter whether Charlton fans turned up on Fan’s United at the Goldstone or whether they signed petitions supporting us - we have to support them all** because we know what it feels like. And it's heartbreaking.

Credit to all Albionites who joined in the chanting, the marching, the protesting, the blowing up beach balls and balloons. Credit to all Charlton fans who planned the protests, gave us balloons, beach balls, marched, applauded the Albion fans. Credit to all at CARD (Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet) who will keep fighting for the heart of their club. That club is lucky to have you.

And a special mention for the stewards who tried to confiscate balloons that had not EVEN been blown up as I entered The Valley. Well done, you did a sterling job. I’m sure Duchatelet will give you more than the national minimum wage for your efforts. And you should have checked my pants!

Football is far bigger than making the top flight this season. Sometimes it’s really rather easy to forget that. On Saturday in south east London, it was all I could think of.

*Or had the home team won thanks to a goal that deflected off a beach ball
**As an Albion fan, you have permission to refuse to support the supporters of P****e or MK Don’ts

15 April 2016

OUR 1978 REVENGE?

I was minus six years old in 1978 but we’re all aware of the stitch up at The Dell. If you’re too young (and let’s face it, I am), Albion legend has it that Southampton and Tottenham played out a draw in their final fixture of the 1977-78 season so both were automatically promoted to the top and Albion missed out. We were stitched-up, denied a place in the top flight for the first time in our history. Indeed, Albion’s 2-1 home win against Blackpool wasn’t enough to clamber into that third automatic promotion spot at the expense of Southampton or Tottenham. Almost 40 years later, many Albionites still see this as a conspiracy.

Southampton did honourably hit the post in the dying minutes, apparently. Had that gone in, it would have relegated the North Londoners to fourth position and history would have changed. Albionites have always told me that it was a stitch-up, though I can’t help but feel Tottenham’s last home match of the season was more so. Was it a carefully planned post-hitting, perhaps, to pour cold water on our conspiracy theory? Other than that post hit, Southampton and Tottenham fans have since suggested it was an awfully dull 0-0 - so there is still suspicion. But what’s the use of complaining 38 years later?

And at least it didn’t really affect the Albion the next season. Even more well known is the legend (or is it a myth?) that the Albion stormed to promotion the following season (albeit behind Terry Venables’ C*****l P****e) and secured their first ever season in the top flight.

The thing is with football, there’s always chance to make some kind of amends. So I propose this…

Using the Sky Sports Championship title predictor (notice how Hull’s fixtures are still included but the title quietly leaves them out), I propose that we continue our great run of form with two home wins and then another at Charlton, maybe drop points at home to Derby. Burnley drop points against Middlesbrough and perhaps at Birmingham and Lancashire rivals, Preston, too. Middlesbrough possibly drop points against Birmingham and Burnley but maintain form.

It all comes down to the final match, away at the Riverside. Albion and Middlesbrough need a point apiece to secure automatic promotion and leave Burnley’s promotion chances languishing in the lottery of the play-offs. Kick of commences. It’s harder than it was in 1978 for both teams to simply stand on the pitch with the ball in play. This is partly because the Sky cameras are once again filming the famous blue and white stripes and showing the game live. Partly because of Twitter. 90 minutes of each team aimlessly kicking the ball back to each other is finally up. The whistle blows. Both teams are promoted.

And then Joey Barton and his team-mates and the Burnley fans can still be telling people about the famous stitch-up at the Riverside in 2054.

If you’re interested in how we beat Tottenham in April 1978 to make the stitch-up possible, read the excellent Goldstone Wrap post about that match.

7 December 2015

ANOTHER ALBION WIN


We have spent many a blogpost and fanzine article down the years hideously criticising the club's marketing department. And rightly so. But, credit where it's due, the club's new half season ticket advert is a stunning sign of how far we've come.

It is nothing short of wonderful. Sure, the 'actors' could still do with some training - especially the parents - and Kazenga could do with some lessons in how to avoid uncomfortably hugging a child. But seeing this advert yesterday added yet another string to Albion's latest wonderful weekend bow.

The credit to the club is not just confined to this advert. Much of the credit comes from the incredible decision to create and distribute for free these pop-up desktop players. Whoever came up with that deserves a massive pay rise, and the contrast with some marketing decisions of the past could not be greater (the best free gift since the play-off clackers, perhaps).

When I was a lad, the closest I got to collectible Albion players was a half page in Panini's Football League '95-'96 sticker book (there were only three stickers the following season after relegation to the bottom tier) and a few Pro Set cards in seasons before. Now, you can collect Albion players without having to buy thousands of stickers of players from other league sides.

The premise of the advert is that kids think these pop-ups are actually the real players. But it's not just the kids. Ever since my mini-Bobby Zamora arrived in the post, I have literally been talking to him like he's Bobby. It turns out, I'm not the only one.

It's not just this advert where the club's PR has drastically improved. The 'Together' slogan in place this season has also been a nice touch. It was made more prevalent by the Shoreham air tragedy and the club was never to realise at the start of the season how apt that would be. But the focus on the collective effort throughout the club can never be divisive.

Last season's slogan was laughable in hindsight. 'One Club, One Ambition' may have sounded perfect at the start of a new season, having made the play-offs the previous year. But Hyypiä's reign took us to the brink, and that one ambition was simply to retain our second tier status. That slogan was plastered on the club shop alongside a huge image of Jake Forster-Caskey. A player who, at the start of 2014-15, we expected great things. It didn't quite work out like that.

'One Club, One Ambition' would actually be more appropriate this season really, which just shows how marketing slogans can be made or broken by performances on the pitch. The use of 'Together' this season, and a club shop plastered with large images of several players (including one from the women's team) nicely takes the pressure off individuals. And, collectively, we've been great.

This advert also shows that I may be able to add other pop-up players to my Bobby and David Stockdale collection. Who knows? Maybe one day, I'll have a full squad to talk to.

What do I want for Christmas? Well, apart from Albion players greeting me on Christmas morning, can I ask for a pop-up Colin Hawkins?

26 August 2015

TIMEWASTING

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

10 REASONS TO BE EXCITED ABOUT TONIGHT


#1 PRE-SEASON IS OVER
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.
#2 NEW SIGNINGS
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).

#3 FALMER STADIUM
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.

#4 SEEING OLD FRIENDS
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.
#5 THE NEW LEGENDS WALL
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).

#6 FOOTBALL
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.
#7 STALKING PLAYERS
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.

#8 HUGHTON’S NEW BRAND OF ATTACKING TIPPY-TAPPY FLOWING TOTAL FOOTBALL
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.
#9 THE CLUB SHOP
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

MEMORIES FROM THE SEASON OF DREAMS®

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

HOW HIGHBROW: THE ALBION ON RADIO 4

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

AN UNSCIENTIFIC SURVEY | £££'S PER GOALS

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

POLICING HOMOPHOBIA AT THE ALBION: AN UPDATE

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.