This week I went to Falmer for the England Under-21 match versus Austria. It was cold, the atmosphere like a swimming pool during half-term, and the football on show pretty shoddy. It was made even more bizarre contrasting so wildly with my last visit to our wonderful home - the Crystal Palace derby. There we were greeted to a (Inigo) calderon of noise, rampant hostility and - most importantly - a spectacular performance and result.
I've never much seen the point of International football. Sure, during the tournaments I'll get right into it. But qualifiers and - worse yet - friendlies hardly inspire the sort of fervent support we got against Palace. And it's that atmosphere of dullness we had at Falmer on Monday night - created by an inability to care - that makes meaningless football matches even more so. I think I'll pass on the next international game at Falmer. Palace at home next season - on the other hand - already has me wetting myself with excitement.
TSLR Towers was contacted post-Palace by a bloke who is writing a book about English football rivalries. We spoke to him about the rivalry; how - up until the other Sunday - we'd never seen an Albion home win; how we hadn't really played them in our lifetimes. It's a strange rivalry to an outsider - in this case a West Bromwich Albion fan - but one I had little trouble in describing to him. You see, as I watched and ranted at Wilfred Zaha, I saw the most menacing looks on Albionite faces around our little section of the North Stand - murderous faces on some of the nicest people I know. It doesn't really matter how a rivalry started or whether the two teams are considered to be too geographically distant. If the anger, passion and vitriolic hatred is there...
Palace fans absolutely love to hate us too. A couple of years back we surveyed Palace fans for our The Seaweed Love Review special and you'll be pleased to know that they hated us even when we weren't playing them every season. In that issue, some younger Brighton fans had surprisingly suggested they couldn't understand the rivalry - one even cited Leyton Orient as our biggest rival. After the past two seasons, we're sure that the Orient hating youth has had their heads turned by the blue and red evilness.
It was amazing to beat Palace - let us hope that whatever happens come the end of this season, we'll get the chance again next year (although if we don't play them for a few seasons, we could have years of bragging rights after that thumping).
Simon Jordan, Wilfred Zaha, Colin Wanker, Steve Coppell, Ian Wright, Mark Goldberg, that Palace cheerleader who used to be a Gully's Girl, Steve Parish, Glenn FFSMurray, Ian Holloway, Andy Johnson, John Salako, Jim Cannon, Geoff Thomas, Dougie Freedman, Terry Venables, Mark Bright, yes you, Mark Bright...
Your boys took one hell of a beating.