16 November 2012


Last Saturday's trip to the Midlands saw one belter of a game (we clearly should have won) but it will forever be remembered as one of TSLR's growing list of away trip disasters. The new issue - TSLR043 - arrived on time, and sold out (only the copies we had on the day, we've got plenty in our online shop, and at Huddersfield tomorrow), thanks to the many TSLRites in the away end. But there was one face absent from those flogging the fanzine. Mine.

I was awoken that morning, perhaps hangover, to a text asking which tier we'd be sitting in. My nonchalant response suggested we'd find out when we got the tickets. Of course shortly thereafter, it was clear that Wolverhampton Wanderers still think they're in the top flight and subsequently made this match all ticket, as they do every match (I later established). Now despite the anger I bestowed on myself, I refused to admit blame early on - the last time I had to buy a ticket for a bit part Albion league match was at Southend a couple of season's ago and, even then, that was police orders - I rocked up to Roots Hall and bought a ticket to the away end on the day.

On the train to Wolverhampton, I was rightly derided for ineptitude. It would have been fine, only it appeared I was meant to purchase another TSLRite's ticket and for that I was deeply apologetic. Anyhow, a few beers helped eradicate that feeling of embarrassment and, together with a few frantic Tweets, we managed to get hold of one ticket in the away end. With two hours until kick off, I was confident of getting another ticket alongside fellow Albionites. Misplaced, as it turned out. But there was a solution. An alien but feasible solution...

Another Albionite on the train (by this point I was asking anyone wearing blue and white or green and black for tickets) knew a Wolves fan who knew their third choice 'keeper who had a spare ticket. In the home end. I panicked. I took it. A complimentary ticket for £20. Now, I've never sat in the home end before for an Albion match. The co-ed had done in Huddersfield for what turned into the 7-1 hammering - the only time I've been in that sort of position was supporting Wigan from the Arsenal end at the new Highbury last season (but, even then, I couldn't really give a shit).
I donned my neutral face, offloaded my TSLR merch, strolled past the Billy Wright statue and took my place amongst the other complimentary ticket attending Wolves fans. Needless to say, it was pretty quiet sat with the 'fans' who only go on free tickets they get from the non-playing playing staff. Anyway, I got through the match despite being absolutely gutted with not being allowed to join in with the ever excellent away support. And it was difficult to contain myself when Albion scored. Thrice (although, I have now perfected the holding my head in my hands technique to get a sneaky little smile in). But I was mainly pleased not to cause a commotion that would, ultimately, lead to a fight with the home fans, ejection and a subsequent banning order.

So my advice for all you football fans is this: always buy a ticket when going to a match. That's been added to the advice we gave a few years back: when driving to Hartlepool, leave plenty of time to get there - otherwise you'll end up in a pub in Sheffield watching Ceefax at 3pm on a Saturday.
And Falmer really needs its own Billy Wright statue. In fact, Peter Ward's in town so often, perhaps he could bronze himself and stand outside the West Stand every Saturday.

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