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.

23 December 2014


And so it ends. Sami Hyypia has fallen on his sword and the Seagulls are looking for their fourth manager since landing at the Amex.

Hyypia becomes the third manager in succession to ask to leave Brighton and Hove Albion and the process of finding a new head honcho begins again. Gus Poyet, Oscar Garcia and Hyypia all asked for an out for a variety of reasons, and yet supporters will wonder why the club seem to haemorrhage managers at such an alarming rate.

Not that Hyypia’s departure will cause as widespread upset as those of his two predecessors. The former Finland international has suffered an appalling start to the season – winning just 13.6% of his 22 league games in charge of the Seagulls. In fact, the majority of Albion fans felt the one-time Liverpool defensive lynchpin had already overstayed his welcome.

Read the full article on the Not Worth That website HERE

22 December 2014


https://dub113.mail.live.com/ol/clear.gifI wrote this for the now probably never to be published TSLR059 - The (online only downloadable festive) Seabird (roast) Love Review. We asked for articles earlier this month from all of our contributors and, needless to say, they all pretty much focused on one thing, our Finnish(ed) manager. With today’s news this article is therefore out of date. So I thought I better publish it. Quick. Read it.

As I flicked through Twitter after yet another unmemorable and interchangeable defeat earlier this season, I saw Sami Hyypiä’s win percentage compared to Albion managers of yesteryear. The Finn sits below the reign(deer) of the returning Micky Adams. He is even close to Martin Hinshelwood’s horrific division 2 run of the early 2000s. To make Hyypiä’s brand of bland a little more palatable for all of us in the second half of the season, I have penned a letter to Sami Claus: The Ten Avoid the Sack Commandments with some poorly executed festive puns.

1. Pretend to care. This is the easiest one. The next time Albion score, charge down the touchline to join the players in a ‘bundle’ in front of some Albion fans. High five a couple of fans as you head back to the technical area. When (or perhaps if?) we next win a game (an away draw will do), walk towards the Albion fans upon the final whistle whilst simultaneously pumping your fist to your chest (the more your chest is bruised the following day, the better). Kiss the Albion badge. Be careful not to kiss the kit manufacturers badge - they have a poor worker’s rights record and this will prove you don’t care about underpaid children in Malaysian factories so how could you possibly care about a football team?

For more detailed instructions on how to look like you have an appetite for desire, watch the Saints 1 Albion 3 DVD - Gus Poyet’s first match in charge. You don’t actually have to care, just look like you might. Gus did it for years. That DVD might also give you a few hints as to how football is allowed to be played (warning: footage does include a now rare Albion victory). It might additionally help to stop denying you lack passion (of the Christ) in EVERY SINGLE post match interview. Just stop bringing up the subject of passion until you have carried out at least one of the above instructions.

2. Play to the team’s strengths. A lot of focus following the Derby defeat was placed upon your decision to play Rohan (M)Ince (pies) only after we were 3-0 down. Don’t be too concerned with the result - we lost by three goals at the Old Pride Park only last season - but do be concerned by not playing AS MANY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS AS POSSIBLE away at league leaders who have had the beating of us in recent seasons. That tactical error isn’t the first…

There was the early season 2-5-3 formation that tended to backfire despite my initial all out attacking excitement. There was the not playing a holding defender since Danny Holly (and the Ivy) lost his form, and despite us being in the year 4AD (Anno Defensive Midfielder) - an era when the whole world plays holding midfielders (if not two). There is the continuing reluctance to play any creative players when we are CRYING OUT FOR (Christmas time) CREATIVITY. All these tactical naiveties (nativities?) relate to each other. A holding midfielder can allow more freedom for players to attack elsewhere - counter intuitive, perhaps, but give it a go. You current tactical nous makes no frankinsense. Chris O’Grady is not a striker.

3. Wear the flair. Of the three foreign born managers who have been in charge of an Albion team at Falmer, you, Sami, are quite simply the dullest of all of them. Where is the flair? Gus had it off the pitch and created it on it, Oscar dressed flair (chinos!) and still managed to sort of entertain us. Compared to you, even Garcia was fantastically exciting. You are lacking in flair. You have no song (even Chris O’Gravy has three, although two are less than complimentary because of his regular donkey pantomime act).

You also seem to be rehearsing for THE SAME PRE-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE EVERY GAME. Don’t tell us that form doesn’t matter because you once won at Bayern Munich with Bayer Leverkusen. Again. We don’t care. We are all prepared to go along with you being flairless but in return you have to deliver more than three wins in five months. If you can’t deliver wins, punch a referee, square up to an opposition manager, throw a strop, grow a ponytail or take you pet dog in the dugout for yet another home defeat. Do something.

4. Build some hypothetical bridges. There is no doubt that at least 75% of Albion fans have now lost the faith in your management skill or perhaps just your personality. Either way it’s time to take drastic action. Follow the lead of Paul Beirne, Albion's new commercial manager. This bloke works for Paul Barber yet has managed to get Albion fans onside. He seems human, he responds to people directly on Twitter, he posts on North Stand Chat in non-official club led threads and he would probably share a beer with any one of us.

If you want to be liked again without winning, Sami, you have to do something extraordinary like Beirne. Let those keyboard warriors know that your management technique is inept. Post a thread about which Albion players might do well on Strictly Come Dancing. Join a thread that talks highly of you as a manager (dated June 2014 but you can still add to it). Act human, have a beer. What have you got to lose?

5. Insist on inappropriate fancy dress at the club Christmas party. I haven’t seen any team bonding session photographs laden across the club website since you became manager. In fact, the highest placed go karter still at the club was Lewis Dunk in seventh. It’s time to reinvigorate our low IQ footballers teambuilding. But, seeing it’s not quite the weather for paintballing, and Christmas party season is upon us, why not unite the players in a show of defiance against decency? It’s fancy dress time.

Convince Gordon Greer to turn up as Fred West by threatening him with the loss of the captaincy. Perhaps two youth teamers could turn up as Holly and Jessica (blonde wigs, Manchester United shirts, easy). Bruno could come as Rolf Harris. Stockdale as Jimmy Savile. Or maybe CMS could come with a cricket ball stuck to his neck pretending to be Phillip Hughes? OK so the last one is probably too soon, but the disgrace that the non-football world will heap on the club if just one of those costumes is used will work in our favour. It will finally bring that togetherness we’ve all been looking for since May as the players are forced to stick together against a common enemy.

6. Do some defensive training. An obvious one really. For such a long-serving (and actually quite good) defender when you were a player, your Albion team looks horrifically vulnerable to conceding at ALMOST ALL MOMENTS OF EVERY GAME. Even when we attack, opposition teams look most likely to score. The only thing the defence has consistently got right this season is scoring goals. This is some weird reversal of how football is played. I’m all for new methods, and exciting new ways of playing football, but if a defender is playing they need to primarily defend. The same goes for attackers and attacking. Some are called strikers because they strike the ball towards goal, though there are none currently in your squad. The clue is in their titles.

7. Renounce your nationality. Now don’t get us wrong, we’re not xenophobic. Albion’s foreign managers down the years have been jolly successful. It’s not like we have some English complex in which as soon as things start to go wrong we blame your nationality. We’re not like many of our comPATRIOTS who sounded like (Saint) Nick Griffin just as soon as Sven had an affair with his secretary or Fabio presided over abject failure. Brighton is hardly a UKIP hotbed - it’s basically in France anyway.

You haven’t got lost, we’re not in Rochester, but we are talking about social media. Seeing as how #BinTheFinn has become such a hit (it’s probably trending worldwide because the Albion are so important) then maybe it’s time to change nationality. It is nigh on impossible to find a nationality that fits a rhyming hashtag so well. Avoid Bosnia because #ScrapTheBosniak has a nice ring to it. Equally avoid Mexico for #CanTheMexican references. But almost all other nationalities are un-rhymable. Unfortunately for you, nothing can prevent #DumpTheChump.

8. Listen to yourself. Your post match comments are gold. If by gold you mean meh (myrrh). After the Derby match, you promised we will be ‘working on our defensive side’ and we will ‘tighten up a little bit’. Following the Fulham match you suggested ‘everyone has to toughen up and be more concentrated’. We proved how much the squad listened to that piece of advice in the first 25 minutes at Derby. ‘We were guilty of lapses in concentration and they cost us. It's just a case now of analysing the game and seeing how we can do better.’ Which game you ask? Those words fell out of your mouth, Sami, after conceding three at Norwich. What reaction the following week? Nothing but a home defeat by Fulham.

Be honest with yourself, you are just saying words, they don’t actually mean anything. Actually perhaps there’s a career for you yet: in politics. And your Scandinavian, it could be like BBC4’s Borgen. Sorry, I digress. Don’t get me wrong, Sami, Gus would utter whole mouthfuls of tripe nothing too but he would then spend the week making sure each player knew exactly where they had gone wrong and, more often than not, it would be rectified the following week. One thing you will probably never have the opportunity to say at Albion is what you uttered after Leverkusen played PSG: ‘I’m very proud of the way my lads played. You said after a defeat. Pride in defeat would actually be preferable to bland defeat.

9. Buy you and your family TSLR t-shirts. This will back up points 1 and 4 as well as shamelessly make us a few quid in the process. You see, wearing a North Stand Social Club t-shirt will allow you to a) pretend to care about the club and b) show you can laugh about yourself. Humility is a (Santa’s) helper when you need to buy affection from people that deride and loathe you. All our t-shirts will also suit the eminent Scandinavian style of your WAG too so why not dress the whole family for around £10 (plus postage and packing) per head? If you want to go the whole hog then why not pop in after another dreadful home performance for a Harveys in the North Stand Social Club? Wear your brand new TSLR t-shirt and at least two Albionites might not spit on you.

OK so perhaps number 9 was just a marketing exercise for us. But Sami, t-shirts are available to purchase from the TSLR shop (www.theseagulllovereview.com) - we have a sleigh load of new stock for all the family to enjoy - as is the sole remaining official TSLR mouse mat that we have had in stock since 2011.

10. Don’t get sacked before the TSLR Xmas Special is published. Sami, we know this special Xmas fanzine is only in PDF format but you really will save the editors a load of time if you hold on until Boxing Day. Otherwise all the jibes that come your way, like the ones in this article, will be rendered redundant. And Christmas will be ruined. If you somehow manage to do all the above in January, we will almost certainly survive relegation to our spiritual and traditional home in Division 3. We all know you probably won’t make it that far and as such I’ve got a joke for your cracker this year. Why did Santa not have his sack on Christmas Eve 2014? He gave it to Sami.