24 January 2014


There are a handful of moments in my life where I can pinpoint the moment my heart shattered. One of those was back on 10 October 2001. A text (or was it a page??) confirmed what we'd been expecting: Micky Adams left Albion to become number two at Leicester (number two?!? An assistant manager? #FFSpreMurray). My heart sank that afternoon. After years of abject disappointment that had included travelling to Kent instead of Hove, Adams had rejuvenated my south coast Albion enclave. He brought wins, clean sheets and Bobby Zamora. You see, most of my life had been spent with Barry Lloyd. Sure, Steve Gritt got wins at home and Brian Horton continued the upward curve but Micky brought something new. Something alien. Micky brought me a trophy.

I met Adams twice on the day of his appointment. As a youthful shirker of sixth form, I had heard a rumour from sources within the then new town centre club shop that a press conference would be held at the Grand Hotel with some new manager. Micky was compelling at the Grand that afternoon - with his soft northern loveliness, I was entranced by his professionalism and ambition.

That evening, I was at yet another Falmer CGI presentation with my parents at Hove Town Hall and, at the last minute, decided to head to the balcony from the lower floor. As we went through the doors, our path was blocked. Dick Knight and Micky Adams stood there. I mumbled some luck to Adams for the following day's match and turned. But Adams spoke - 'you were at the press conference this afternoon', he said. Micky knew who I was. And I was sold.

It helped that we won a lot of games, headed back to the Withers, pissed on Chesterfield, won the league. I was completely in love with Adams at the end of that Division 4 title winning season. The next season was even better. Until October. 

It was sad that Micky left mid-second-title-in-a-row season. Sad because, ultimately, he missed out on back to back trophies from a team he built. It was sad because he missed out on Falmer (it was a reason Micky came - to take us to a brand spanking new stadium). But most of all, back in 2001, I genuinely couldn't believe that someone other than Micky could win Albion a trophy.

Looking back now, that's an incredibly naive outlook. even Mark McGhee would win us a trophy, and not that long after. But back then, I didn't know. I thought that the end of Micky's reign would be it. I will forever struggle to understand why he left a successful team to join an outdated (even then) Dave Bassett as his assistant manager. And Albion were basically top of the table too. My heart broke that October. I will never forget the pain that text (it really could have been a page) caused me.

Micky was everything I had ever wanted, but as we head to Port Vale this weekend, seeing the odd sycophantic Tweet about Micky Adams compelled me to get on here and rant. Micky failed at Leicester - when he finally managed to become a manager, his side lost to the Albion, even with only Adam Virgo up front.

When Micky came back for a second time, disheveled and weighty, it was the summer TSLR launched. In the sunshine at Crewe, back in August 2008, and a first win there for 30-odd years, it was dreamy. Could Micky fix my broken heart? Could he make amends for having left me?

No. In that season, Albion were shocking. Aside from that Crewe win, the Manchester City penalty shoot out and a blagged Mickey Mouse cup run, we were awful. The crowd's Withdean patience after an extended stay was ebbing away, and the quality of football was dire. Even then we'd advanced beyond the style of play Adams' sides had to offer. Micky's first signing was Colin Hawkins. He won 10 of 41 games. We all agreed Adams shouldn't have come back.

My esteemed co-editor summed it up perfectly in a blog post he wrote just after we'd blown the Mickey Mouse game at Luton:

"Last night was like a black hole of everything I enjoy about the Albion. If you accounted our late 90's exile in the 4th divison as a dreadful consequence of the Archer business (and it was) then relegation on pure footballing ineptitude takes us back to the early 70's - that's right, I'm likening this to our worst season in 30 years. TSLR is not keeping a dignified silence on our opinions of Mr. Adams, I think more likely we are just plain confused, or dumbfounded to the point of being mute, on the happenings on the pitch this season - happenings that are down to what happened off the pitch last summer."
On 21 February 2009, TSLR pitched up at Millwall with a pretty new issue that had a photo of Adams on the front. On the way to the match, we'd heard that Micky had been sacked - on the day of a game. The Little Chef rumours would come later. It was a surreal day - selling fanzines whilst informing news shy people that Adams had been sacked. But with Adams gone the weight lifted. We won that day and Russell Salad would go on to save the season. The Withers could rejoice again.

But Adams never won my heart back. I will never forget the pain he caused me. Twice. Micky didn't a fuck about us when he left in October 2001. And I don't give a fuck about him now.

That's why I hope we smash Port Vale tomorrow.

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