- Who put that axe in my head?
- Which team holds the record for the shortest ever match report on this blog, due to nothing happening in said game?
- How an earth was Stockdale not man of the match?
- Who have we never done the double over in one season before?
- Did YOU give up three points when they got the penalty?
- How an EARTH did we win that?
- My friends, particularly three of them with the initials G, S and D.
- Sheffield Wednesday, last season.
- Because Knockaert (they should have shared it)
- It’s er, um, erm, Sheff, um, no wait, it’ll come back to me……..
- I did #badfan
- Let’s try and explain that in under 1200 words
But first 1).
I’m feeling absolutely hanging a teensy weensy bit delicate today. The annual Brighton but Only at Home trip to 1901 Club hospitality was a swinging success. Four intrepid explorers set out from The Caxton on a Friday evening intent on making the most of seats that were even more padded, beer that tasted better because, goddamnit, it was served in a BRANDED glass and food that wasn’t just stacked under concourse heat lamps. The beer needed to be tested on several occasions.
This made for a convivial evening which was just as well as one of our number had accidentally dressed for a fashion show rather than a football match and therefore needed to apply a warm, invisible beer coat. Those of us who were more sensibly dressed drained a last pint. At 7.40 pm, in our cups and having agreed it would be a return to form, there was nowhere else better to be. Well, perhaps our own seats, where I imagined the Cheese Eating Poker School, who had taken up temporary residence, were handing out correct score bets and having Voice Tablets and tickertape rained on them from behind. But our seats had a great view and lots of legroom.
The annual 1901 visit, as my regular reader will attest, is really code for annual piss up, which given the amount of times I mention the word “beer” on here is quite something. Luckily it was so flipping FREEZING that we all sobered up fairly quickly. The effect would be not dissimilar to emerging in to the night from a Russian vodka bar. Which was good because the first half needed concentrating on.
It wasn’t that the first half was particularly dull. In fact a makeshift Albion team, with the injured Baldock and Bruno replaced by Hemed and Goldson respectively, made the brighter start of the two teams. Though ostensibly lacking in pace it was a line up that was at least solid, with Stephens restored to midfield and Pocognoli in at left back. It was just that the second half had SO much more incident.
So – the main bits of the first half – two goals.
Ours was a delight. I don’t care how much beer (or Russian vodka) you’ve consumed, goals like that stick in the memory. As so often when we score the other team was on the attack. We broke it up on the edge of our area and went on the counter. Hemed put his head in where it hurts and received the ball back via a midfield interchange. Suddnely he was clear with Knockaert screaming for it on the right. The ball was well placed but slightly lacking in pace and the chance seemed to have gone with a chipped first touch. Somehow Knocky was first to it, went round the despairing Westwood, who should have done better, and smashed in past the defenders on the line. 1-0.
We were comfortable enough that we should have gone in one nil up but then disaster struck. Forestieri roasted Goldson on our right and put in a decent cross. Norwood attempted to head clear but Dunk stuck out a leg and deflected it past Stockdale for a calamitous own goal. 1-1.
Half time. Time for more beer.
Where to start after that? Three red cards, another goal and enough argy bargy for the game to officially be noted down as “bad tempered”. There was certainly enough entertainment to keep us warm (even if you were dressed for the opera). And, in the light of day, there wasn’t a decision I disagree with.
Firstly Wednesday had a corner which we failed to clear adequately. Loovens hammered a shot goalwards and Murray protected his face with his arms, which the ball hit. Hand to ball? Yes. Shot going in? Maybe. Sending off? Probably. Referee Attwell showed a red card. One all, down to ten men, with a penalty against us. “I’ll take a draw now” I said to anyone who would listen. Thank goodness the players didn’t listen.
A second penalty save of the month from Stockdale and we went mad. The reflex save of the follow up was even better and we went madder. Could we pull an unlikely draw out of this desperate moment?
No, we would do better. Up the pitch we went on one of our rare forays, the team now deliberately hitting on the break. The ball came to Pocognoli on the left and his perfect cross was met by that man Knockaert again. The posh seats went doolally. God knows what was happening in the North and the WSU.
A backs to the wall effort then, or at least it was until some argy bargy on the edge of our area saw Fletcher headbutt one of our centre backs (yes I didn’t see which) and get a red card of his own. Then an appalling challenge on the halfway line by Hutchinson saw him get a second yellow, though a straight red would have been more appropriate. Suddenly we were massive favourites. You could feel the palpable despair in the away end.
And so the whistle went and we all hugged again and the players looked much as they did after Fulham, sheer delight at our win and escape.
More beer. A train queue. An abandoned train queue. A bus. A cold bus that wouldn’t leave Falmer for some reason not quite explained. A walk from darkest Porstlade. Another pub. Beer. Gin. Whisky. A certain someone (not me) passing out. A VERY COLD walk home. A hangover. All worth it. All would be done again in a heartbeat. This team, this team is a team of winners.
The eagle eyed among you may remember I was “doing dry January”. This weekend was always going to be an exemption. At this rate I’ll need a fridge full of champagne.