All is well down on the south coast. A new ground, an impressive manager (Gus Poyet, ex Real Zaragoza, Spurs and Chelsea midfielder) and, following promotion, a great start in the Championship. And now they have us in the Carling Cup at a time when the anti-climax of derby day has us down in the dumps. Fatboy Slim ignored our approach but David Smith*, a blogging Albion fan, proved an able substitute. He must a real fan since he even attended “home” games when that meant regular treks to Gillingham. David (who probably watched SuperKev on Saturday, doing twice – again – what our strikers cannot) senses victory …
Back in the second tier with a winning start, Gus Poyet gaining plaudits as manager, new ground, us at home in the cup. How could life be better?
Does life get any better? Honestly, it’s never been so good on the south coast for the Albion. Even when we were playing the old first division (cue some people screaming at me about the ‘good old days’) I don’t think it’s ever been this good! Everything’s coming up Brighton at the moment and it’s fantastic.
What in all honesty is the best the Brighton supporter can hope for this season and in the coming, say, five years? Would promotion again this season be too soon?
If you’d have asked me that question before a ball hand been kicked this season I’d have bitten your hand off for 4th from bottom and survival in the Championship. After three straight league wins, well it’s amazing what a little bit of hope can do to a man. I think Brighton will finish in the high mid-table area, missing out on the play-offs. But many other fans would see the play-offs as a real possibility, and I would totally disagree with them. Promotion this season may well be step too far, we have much the same squad as last year, and even though they are all very good, the premiership would probably be a hurdle too far.
Click here to visit the Salut! Sunderland Shop ….
The Goldstone, Gillingham groundshare, Withdean Zoo and finally Falmer – or I suppose we have to call it the American Express Community Stadium. What is the new home like and do you have fond memories of the others?
I have only been a Brighton supporter (showing my age) during one season at the Goldstone, but it was one hell of a season so I share the fondest of memories with every other fan. My first two years as a season ticket holder were at Gillingham, and it was soul destroying! As for the Withdean, it wasn’t far from my house, so I suppose that’s something. As for the AMEX, it’s one of the best grounds in the whole country, it’ll be worth travelling the length of the country for you lot, trust me!
Describe the impact Poyet has had on the club
We actually play football now… which helps!
You are too young to have seen Albion in the days of our own hero Brian Clough, among many illustrious managers. But does he figure in your sense of history about the club?
Brian Clough still gets a mention in the history books of course but Peter Taylor gets a lot more credit. After Cloughy left for Leeds, Taylor stayed on and signed Peter Ward, who is arguably the best player to play for Brighton, certainly the best centre forward…
What have been the highs and lows of supporting Albion?
Ha, there’s been so many of both! When I first started supporting the Albion in 1996/97 it was pretty much all low until the last two games of the season (I could go on and on about that season but I’ve summed it up here). That season we saved our football league status as well as the club. But from that moment on the highs have kept coming really. We’ve been yo-yoing somewhat between divisions but playing at the Withdean we couldn’t expect anything less. Now we’ve got out shiny new ground; I predict the highs will keep on coming!
Which player had given you most pleasure – and who should never have been allowed near the Brighton shirt?
I’ve already mentioned Peter Ward but I didn’t see him play so that doesn’t count. Bobby Zamora would definitely be the crowd favourite of late. The current squad is by far the best we’ve had since I’ve been watching too. The worst player is a tricky one (there’s been so many) but I’ll have to plump for Federico Turienzo, the Argentine striker we signed in 2005. We basically only signed him because Zibi Boniek (former Juve star) recommended him, and he looked good on a video doing kick ups in his back garden… the lad could barely even run!
The Barton Question: what form of cheating in football angers you most? Do we just have to accept it as part of the modern game or should we try to stamp it out?
Referees need to be given more licence to stamp out diving; I think everyone would agree with that. But on the other hand they need to allow the game to flow too. I guess one innovation could be to allow play to run if a player dives and book them later. Really responsibility is down the players, everyone seems to blame the ref, all I know is that if I were allowed to take charge of a premier league game… it would only happen once!
What do you know about Sunderland: club, fans, city, region? Is there one player in our current squad you’d dearly like to see at your place?
One of my good friends from university, the descriptively names ‘Stella Steve’, is a big Sunderland fan and I’ve visited the region a few times. I’ve been to the Stadium of Light, albeit not on a match day, and it’s alright. It’s big, but only ‘alright’ in my eyes, sorry. My favourite player in the current squad is probably Lee Cattermole; he’s the sort of player that Sunday league stalwarts can relate to in the way he plays. Also, any player that cries after getting booked on their debut for their childhood club is instantly likeable. I’d therefore buy him a drink if I ever see him …
Name, in order, the top four in the Premier this season, plus the bottom three, the Carling Cup winners and the promotion/relegation groups from the Championship.
1st Manchester United
2nd Manchester City
Carling Cup – Arsenal
2nd West Ham
Playoff – Southampton
22nd Crystal Palace
If not stated in the previous question, where will Brighton and Sunderland end up in their respective divisions?
I think both our clubs would be happy with a high mid-table finish really…
Brighton have much the same team as last year that are now playing in a better league and Sunderland have a whole new look to their squad (with so many signings) that I think you’ll be mid table as well.
We know about Fatboy Slim. Do you see much of him at games and who are the other celebs who follow Albion?
He goes to lots of games, for about 3 or 4 season his record label sponsored our shirts so he’s certainly put lots into the club. Des Lynam is another one, now he’s not on TV as much he’s always watching.
Identify the one measure the football authorities or Brighton could take to improve the lot of the ordinary fan.
Bring back standing behind the goals. I’m not saying get rid of seating, people want to sit at football games now. But standing is still allowed at some old grounds so why not allow it in small sections of new grounds, surely with today’s technology this could be a safe possibility?
Will you be at our game? What will be the score?
I should be there. I’ll go for a 2 – 1 Brighton win as I don’t think Sunderland will play a full strength team.
David Smith on David Smith:
* Long term Brighton sufferer. I started watching the Albion when I was just seven for the last season at the Goldstone. I’ve been watching them ever since, even travelling to Gillingham every fortnight for a couple of years. I work in the health service and write for a football and current affairs website a few old university friends and I set up www.cheeseslices.co.uk to air our views.
Interview: Colin Randall