25 July 2010


Blimey, what a night that turned out to be. Where to start? There was a fight, a big fight that started as a tussle between one of their players and Ashley Barnes. But you must know that by now. Gus probably turned it into the mass brawl it became as he, having seen the fight kicking off, stormed onto the pitch to break it up. That gave license to the entire Albion bench to run on and join in - if only so they could pull the hair of opposition keeper who wasted no time in steaming into the action. Shortly after the entire Portimonense bench came steaming in, and so then did a policeman from each side - one I swear was writing down the incident in his big notebook. The funniest forray onto the playing arena was some massive fat man wearing a striped shirt that came from, I think, beyond the Portimonense bench. Nobody knows who he was.

TSLR very nearly decided to stay on the beach for this game but dragged ourselves away from the sea and the stage where we debated whether the match would be as entertaining as watching The Wailers going through their soundcheck ahead of what turned out to be a quality gig later that night. But, having made it to the ground, we were delighted to find we could stand (stand!) within inches of the Albion bench, complete with a beer in hand as the sun disappeared behind the stand. The Albion weren´t as slick as we had been against Sunderland but the opposition clearly had some quality about them. They were 2-0 up and cruising in the second half. Before we were back in the perfect position for the fight, we had circumnavigated the pitch allowing TSLR contributor Agent G to hit the sweetest left foot drive into the top corner (off the bar) on the practise pitch with a ball that had found its way off the main pitch. The sweetest strike of the night (apart from Barnes´ punch obviously).

After the fight, the Albion fans thought it wise to boo the Portimonense players off the pitch and we were fully aware this friendly had become anything but. So we scarpered off to the Ferrerais (that´s whose ground we were playing at) bar for a pint out of sight of the police who, by that point, thought the Albion fans were bound - as English - to kick off. There, we cleared the air in the hope that we may yet be invited back next summer and bought a few scarf based souveneers, and very classy they were too. Once the Albion had gone and the conversations of disbelief with other Albion had subsided, we got on the playing surface, pretended we were professionals and recreated the fight. It was incredible.

Then it was back to the train and back home (if you can call a place your staying home). Others went to The Wailers and said it was fooking amazing. But that was it for us and, unfortunately, Portugal. We fly back this evening with deep depression. And what more depressing place to arrive back than Stansted? Still, what a fantastic holiday this has been and hopefully, fight permitting, we´ll be back next season. Oh and we have learned some amazing Portugese words - expect chants of GAIVOTAS every corner next season.

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