Monthly Archives: April 2016
This summer, I will have been supporting Brighton & Hove Albion for 48 years. Here’s the cover of the programme from my first game, on 28th August 1968. It’s pretty irrelevant to this post, but I love football programmes, so here you go!
Since that warm summer evening at the end of the swinging sixties, we have been promoted eight times and relegated seven times. We have reached an FA Cup Final (twice if you count the replay!), got to two play-off finals and have been 28 minutes away from going out of the league altogether. We have sneaked into the play-offs with injury time goals, escaped relegation on the last day of the season, and enjoyed countless days of excitement, misery, expectation and despair.
You would think, wouldn’t you, that after all that, a possible promotion run-in would be easy to deal with. After all, we’ve been there before, loads of times. We know what to expect, right?
Danny Baker once said; “Football, fucking football. Imagine not being into it, those poor, poor, half-alive bastards”
He is, as per usual, absolutely spot on. Football consumes you, attacks your emotions, plays with your mind and then spits you out, anywhere between abject misery and all-consuming euphoria. And I love it.
Brighton have been playing with my emotions for nearly half a century and despite this preparation, I am here in 2016, riddled with expectation and hope. Albion stand on the brink of another promotion, this time to the bloated cash cow that is The Premier League. But forget all the talk of multi-million pound players and obscene wages, this is about football, pure and simple. We go to watch our team win and if we win enough games, promotion is the result.
In just over 24 hours time, we will run out at Nottingham Forest, knowing that a win will keep us in third place, a point behind Middlesbrough and two behind Burnley. With those two still to play each other, and our final game away at Middlesbrough, the simple equation is, win all six remaining games and we are promoted. Easy!
It certainly won’t be easy and there will surely be a good few twists and turns to come, but Chris Hughton and the boys are in a fantastic position. Yesterday’s results mean a play-off place is all but guaranteed and that’s great, but do we really want all that extra mental torture? Our four previous flirtations with this amazing end-of-season lottery has brought mixed results. In 1991, we eased past Millwall before being undone by Tommy Johnson and his Notts County team at Wembley. In 2004, the semi-final against Swindon Town took us through the complete emotional spectrum, before a trip to the Millenium Stadium brought joy, thanks to Leon Knight. 2013 and 2014 delivered semi-final misery, against Crystal Palace and Derby County. The play-offs are great, but only if you win!
The next four weeks will take me and all Albion fans on yet another glorious roller-coaster of emotions. I have a feeling that this particular ride won’t be one of the gentle little trips you see at seaside funfairs. This one promises to be a full-on inverted-loop, upside-down, legs-dangling, blood-curdling ride of terror.
I literally can’t wait!