Every good club has an end of season dinner and awards and here at Brighton But Only At Home we’re no different, with the rather glaring exceptions that a) the awards are coming after the dinner, which was last night and b) I doubt the winners will ever know they won it. It’s not like there’s a trophy or anything. I’m a starving writer* FFS.
The awards take place today because I have run out of ways of saying the same thing. If ever there was a season to forget, on the pitch at least, this was it. So much has to change in the summer and the early announcement of the retained list suggests that it will. That’s not to say the season has been a total write off because, on a personal level it has, at times, been highly entertaining. More of that later.
So – the game. What is there to say about a game like that? Firstly it was terribly, appallingly refereed. I honestly haven’t seen as pathetic a display of officiating here this season and Andy D’Urso’s had a go. It wasn’t quite Pawson against Burnley but the extraordinary thing was that the Football League Show chose not to show a single one of the incidents. In general Watford were cynical, getting in little blind side nudges, all of which were missed, before throwing themselves to the floor. We had two penalty shouts, one good and one dubious, and there should have been a red card for an all out assault on Dunk. Why none of this was shown I don’t know. The timing of the refs departure from the pitch was unfortunate as the boos for him mixed with the applause for a departing CMS and possibly departing Calde (please don’t go Inigo!). Hughton was in his ear as he left and rightly so.
Other than that, well, we competed. The tactics were right (forcing Watford in to an early substitution), we had more of the ball and much of the territory. We created chances, Joe Bennett going close with a volley and O’Grady with a long range shot that was well saved in the first half. O’Grady narrowly missed with a header in the second and Stephens should have put away a brilliant low cross from Calde, who had also teed up the header. Yet we drew a blank. Worse, we lost as Watford demonstrated why they are top and we should be down. We are still carrying too many passengers and, unfortunately one of them is the club captain. Two of our three centre backs for the day conspired to set up Watford’s opener, a poor header straight up by Halford rolling down Greer’s shin in a display of control that would have disappointed an under nines’ coach, for Deeney to pounce and stick the chance away. Other than that Greer looked lost in the three as his lack of passing and pace was again exposed. I’m really not sure why we extended him but he needs to be a back up next season. We need a young, fresh , skilful centre back a bit like that Cooke chap we let go to Bournemouth. Rea might fit the bill, I’ve not seen him enough, but if we are to play three centre backs then we can’t have two of them liable to comedy moments.
With Watford leading one nil we pushed and pushed them until, inevitably, we pushed too far and they scored a second on the break. I don’t mind this given we were safe before kick off and, as other results came in later, it confirmed Watford’s promotion. Congratulations to their fans who were magnificent. However, if the players are a cynical as that next season they’ll end up as hated as us under Poyet.
By the time the results came in the dinner was in full swing. As I said, it’s been a write off on the pitch but off it I’ve had a blast. At the start of the season I agreed to travel over with another dad from The Boy’s school and his son and we have become firm friends with lots in common. This – friendship and community – is why I started going to football in the first place. Banter in the pub and sticking together on the terraces is my background and we are rediscovering it now as we take our kids. Yesterday they played happily in the pub and ate chicken nuggets (only we were in a gastro place so they were called goujons) and pasta (only it was my daughter so what she actually did was cover it in ketchup and then say “yuk”) while we had a pint and reflected on a poor season and an excellent friendship. Elsewhere I have taken The Boy to his first away game, got heroically pissed in corporate hospitality, ranted emotionally to the official twitter account and left The Cyclist at closing time to find an elderly Leeds fan pissing himself. Some of these things deserve an award. *squeezes klaxon*
End of Season Awards
The Unluckiest Player Award
This year and every year this goes to CMS. Nothing winds fans up more than players not trying. CMS always tries. There are beads of his sweat that are already permanent features of The Amex. Yet never was there a player who I have said “unlucky” to quite so often. First touch – unlucky. Header just missing our player – unlucky. Finishing – unlucky. And, as Barry Fry pointed out, being bought by Poyet and used in completely the wrong way – unlucky. Good luck with your next team Craig, you deserve some.
The Unluckiest Fans Award
I may just “out” myself here but it’s too good a story not to share. The Unluckiest Fans award goes to the two blokes who sit directly in front of me. Against Leeds – our best game of the season – I took a friend whose drinking exploits know no bounds. The second goal went in and said friend – who is not small – lost his balance celebrating. I looked up from my own celebrations to see a game of human dominoes taking place with several large men on their arses looking bemused. It was an old style surge. Apologies and brief Anglo Saxon opinions were exchanged and that – I thought – was that. Until yesterday when The Boy decided to berate the referee with a full bottle of water in his hand. A bottle that had no lid on, soaking the same two blokes. They were remarkably decent about it as I wished for the earth to swallow us up before three rows of fans collapsed in laughter.
The Piss Up In a Brewery Award
Goes to Sodexo who couldn’t organise one. They certainly haven’t organised one in a concourse anyway. Yesterday was a story of “no pies” from all around the ground. I am quite happy to go without eating from 3 to 5 on a Saturday but running out of food at lunchtime or evening kickoffs is criminal.
Wish I Was Here Award
As I sat listening to the radio with a mince pie and a beer just after Christmas it became clear that I really, really should have gone to Fulham. I could have but chose not to, my mojo being at its lowest ebb. That game effectively kept us up.
Favourite Game of the Season
So as I wasn’t at Fulham I have to say Charlton away. First away game for the two boys, cracking atmosphere, a win, the goal right in front of us and funny on very many levels. And we did it sober.
Best Away Fans
Goes to Watford. As noisy as Arsenal without being nearly as nasty.
Fattest Bastard Award
Goes to Steve Evans again.
The Andy D’Urso Award for Refereeing Ineptness
So many candidates. So little column space left. Yet, just when you thought Andy would retain it for the third year running in came Keith Stroud yesterday with a performance of such mind boggling ineptness that a foreign call centre operative was heard to exclaim “at least I’m not as bad as that referee there sir”.
The Wonderful Readers Award
Thanks for reading this season. There are lots of you who read regularly and give excellent feedback. Writing a blog is a weird thing to do. On the one had I enjoy it and get a buzz from chatting with you all on Twitter. I’ve even had comments from a couple of proper writers. On the other hand I get the feeling that if I stood on a soap box outside The Amex after a game and shouted this I’d get pelted with beer. That I’m not metaphorically pelted every Sunday genuinely cheers me up. I’ll hopefully be covering a busy transfer window this summer and adding more Opinion and silly stuff to the site to keep it fresh. Thanks for reading again. Enjoy the summer.
*not actually true