• A Fans United Confession - 20 Years On...

    **CONFESSION TIME***

    I was 11 years old at Fans United. But even at that age, I knew perfectly well what was going on. I knew that some old, greedy men were trying to take away my football club from me and my Dad just so they could get richer. My best friend Gareth and I wanted to make a difference. Something. Anything.

    So when Fans United was announced we decided that the absolute best thing to do would be to don our Real Madrid shirts (which we'd acquired the previous summer whilst on holiday in Majorca) and make a BANNER. What greater difference could we make than to declare that the biggest club in the world wanted Archer out? It doesn't matter that we aren't ACTUALLY from Madrid. I'm sure they'd say they'd want Archer out anyway right? Right. This would be brilliant.



    Image taken from this tweet

    And brilliant it was. The North Stand applauded us. We felt like kings. Owing to the fact that I'm a bit brown and Gareth had awful hair, people genuinely thought we were Spanish. We could have gotten away with it if it weren't for photographic evidence (thanks Al) and an eager journalist.

    "Wheeeere arre yooou frroooom?" he asked us outside the ground just after the match, "POWTSLAAYD!"... I don't think he asked us anything else.

    Now, I've had to live with this for 20 years. As I got older, I questioned just why the hell neither of our Dads (just behind us) thought this might be a bad idea. But, I think they were just so happy to let us feel like we were doing something to help, that they went with it. All a bit of harmless fun eh. It wouldn't hurt anyone.

    Except as it turns out. It did hurt someone; The Hartlepool defence. Craig Maskall specifically cited the Real Madrid banner as INSPIRING him towards his hat-trick that day.

    So now you know. I am a FRAUD. But I can proudly say that despite the 20 year's worth of CRINGING every time I hear the words "fans united". I can hold my head up high and say that I did my bit for Brighton in our time of need.... or something


    You might also like:

    How Danny Baker saved Brighton & Hove Albion  - The inside story of Fans United

    Fans United - 20 Years On...


    This article was originally published in forum thread: Fans United - 20 years on... started by The Large One View original post
    Comments 76 Comments
    1. Mouldy Boots's Avatar
      Mouldy Boots -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bob'n'weave View Post
      Richard Vaughun at 1.01, great vid with loads of fans commenting on their support for BHA. What a day!

      Doesn't everyone look young and thin.

      Fans trying to get their message across to the club, we had a voice.


    1. AmexRuislip's Avatar
      AmexRuislip -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mouldy Boots View Post

      Emotional times and only those who were about following the Albion at the time will ever realise this, you can not understand our club fully IMO us you were there if only we could have bottled it and shared it with the more recent fans and the club employees.
      With respect [MENTION=2719]Mouldy Boots[/MENTION], I'll have to disagree with you there.
      I've supported the club since the late 70's, I'll admit I was not around and there when the club was in turmoil, overseas in my defence.
      Even with that, I'm sure that I can speak for a lot of others and myself, that all fans who support the club were most probably following the exploits of the Albion through the media and on forums like NSC, whether they were there or not.
      One in, all in
    1. The_Viper's Avatar
      The_Viper -
      I was barely 7 years old. I had no idea what was at stake back then. Terrifying to think that if it wasn't for all those who went that day and pushed so hard and fought so long I wouldn't have had the rollercoaster of supporting BHA in my life these past 20 odd years. After reading Build a Bonfire and reading the stuff on here over the years I think I can speak for all the '90s kidz' and younger that we're truly grateful for everything everyone did.


      Quick edit - Just because we were born too young to get involved in those days it doesn't mean we are any less of a fan, that line of thought it pathetic. Now, onto the promised land, TOGETHER.
    1. Herne Hill Seagull's Avatar
      Herne Hill Seagull -
      I certainly remember thinking it would be called off for fog too, and reading the cards on the park railings, from pretty much every club you can think of, including Palace. It's odd; it seems almost unreal now - just reading this thread puts a lump in my throat thinking about it. There were times that season, before that day at least, that it felt like it was just a few thousand of us, the very hardest of the hard-core support, who seemed to care. But it clearly wasn't true - football fans truly share a common bond.

      What times we're experiencing now, made possible by what times we experienced then.
    1. Mackenzie's Avatar
      Mackenzie -
      I'm in bits reading this.

    1. lawros left foot's Avatar
      lawros left foot -
      To quote Dickens,

      It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
    1. Kalimantan Gull's Avatar
      Kalimantan Gull -
      Loving the Madrid story above

      1997, twenty years ago, wow! I was 22 and a lot thinner, my Dad lived off Hove Park and I remember so clearly walking over through the fog with him and my mate Ferry, and reading the messages on the railings - I'd read most of them before of course as I'd been glued to the seagulls server for the past few months at work, don't think I got much else done. In the throng outside the North Stand we met a young Stoke City fan who looked a bit nervous to be there in his full colours so we befriended him and stood together on the North Stand. Most abiding memory were the repeated choruses of You'll Never Walk Alone with our scarfs held high, and Build a Bonfire in full voice after every goal, and Dick Knight IN Dickhead OUT, plus the Chelsea fan of course, the huge Eintracht Frankfurt flag and hordes of Norwich and Charlton fans.

      Despite all those great people coming from all over the country and further afield, my abiding memory was pride in us as Brighton fans, that we'd done this and pulled it off, and a real feeling of unity amongst those of us in blue and white. It was such a positive day, one that left you almost certain that we would do this, that we would get Archer out. It was my second to last game ever at the Goldstone, and that day, together with the following evening game against Exeter, are my long-term memories of the place.

      I'll be digging out my 'United Colours of Football' T-shirt for this Saturday (thank you Liz Costa) but doubt it will fit
    1. Statto's Avatar
      Statto -
      Never forget that day, I went with my parents and brother (who all still go regularly now). I remember taking my usual spot in the north stand and three were this elderly couple standing next to us. They were wearing balck and white scarves and told us they were Grimsby fans. It turned out that thier team were at HOME that day, and they still miseed it to come to brighton! That's dedication. That'd ay will allways stick in my memory. I also remember rthe guy with the Eintract Frankfurt banner. I stood right next to him.

      I remember hearing a story after we stayed up that Hereford weren't happy about that day, as it claimed the extra attendance have us a lift and boosted our goal difference, which ultimately led to us staying up!
    1. Gwylan's Avatar
      Gwylan -
      Lots of references to the Chelsea fan: does anyone have any idea who he was? He's like the unknown warrior of our struggles. Wonder if he realises that he's remembered after all these years
    1. Thimble Keegan's Avatar
      Thimble Keegan -
      What an incredible day this was.

      I had no idea how successful Fans United would be despite attending the BISA meeting at the (original) Concorde Bar in the week leading upto the event...I do not think anyone knew just what was about to unfold.

      In the run-up to the day, I had tried to get my Worthing based Watford supporting mate to come along to Fans United, but he declined in favour of going off to Vicarage Road...However, when he got to Euston he saw loads and loads of fans who were all making their way to The Goldstone for Fans United. He even called me from a payphone at Euston Station to say he could not believe what he was seeing as hordes of people were heading South.

      Everything else is a bit of a blur and I cannot recall if I was one of those who wandered into the North Stand when someone opened an exit gate or I entered through the turnstiles. I do remember the Chelsea fan though and asking Helen Chamberlain to start a chant which she obliged with "Build A Bonfire...".

      There was also some Burnley fans with a large Union Flag and a Lincoln City fan with a smaller Union Flag who managed to scale the TV camera gantry at the back of the North Stand. A decent contingent from Norwich came down due to them also having chairman/ownership issues with Robert Chase...And of course, plenty of Charlton were in attendance as they had been through the wringer themselves in the late 80's and early 90's.

      I shook so many hands after the game and it truly was a special event and it is crazy to look back on considering where we are now.

      I sincerely hope there is never a need for us to have a Fan United Day again and we should be thankful that we are in such good hands now.

      Albion & England forever.

      Thimble Keegan
      Littlehampton BHA
    1. BUTTERBALL's Avatar
      BUTTERBALL -
    1. atfc village's Avatar
      atfc village -
      Hartlepool were just so poor that day .
    1. Wozza's Avatar
      Wozza -
      Quote Originally Posted by atfc village View Post
      Hartlepool were just so poor that day .
      Oh, well that's brought us all crashing down to earth...
    1. Neville's Breakfast's Avatar
      Neville's Breakfast -
      Quote Originally Posted by AmexRuislip View Post
      With respect [MENTION=2719]Mouldy Boots[/MENTION], I'll have to disagree with you there.
      I've supported the club since the late 70's, I'll admit I was not around and there when the club was in turmoil, overseas in my defence.
      Even with that, I'm sure that I can speak for a lot of others and myself, that all fans who support the club were most probably following the exploits of the Albion through the media and on forums like NSC, whether they were there or not.
      One in, all in
      Agreed. The last thing this club needs is any kind of elitist 'I was there' attitude. Any generation of Albion fans would have done the same and those that were there do not need any special medals.
    1. B52's Avatar
      B52 -
      Was Jeff Stelling there
    1. carteater's Avatar
      carteater -
      I'll admit...

      February 1997 was before I was even conceived...
    1. dejavuatbtn's Avatar
      dejavuatbtn -
      I'd quite forgotten about how foggy it was. Are we really sure that it was Maskell who scored a hat trick?
      A great day and one of the highlights of my football supporting life, despite it being the ultimate test for our club.
    1. 1234andcounting's Avatar
      1234andcounting -
      Quote Originally Posted by The_Viper View Post
      I was barely 7 years old. I had no idea what was at stake back then. Terrifying to think that if it wasn't for all those who went that day and pushed so hard and fought so long I wouldn't have had the rollercoaster of supporting BHA in my life these past 20 odd years. After reading Build a Bonfire and reading the stuff on here over the years I think I can speak for all the '90s kidz' and younger that we're truly grateful for everything everyone did.


      Quick edit - Just because we were born too young to get involved in those days it doesn't mean we are any less of a fan, that line of thought it pathetic. Now, onto the promised land, TOGETHER.
      Well said, young man. I have enjoyed reading the reminiscences of my battle hardened compadres of the dark days, but we were fighting for the future of the club and the right of future generations of Albion fans to enjoy the good times and the bad (is that from a song?) On that day I had one thought in mind, the survival of Brighton and Hove Albion; even in my wildest dreams I didn't imagine that we would be where we are today (thanks, Tony).

      If I were to have one wish now, it would be that in 10 years time (or so) there will be a threads on NSC reminiscing about our first season in Europe, too.
    1. wigman's Avatar
      wigman -
      I remember being in the queue for the north stand, when a fan came along and said he was going to pay to go through the turnstile, open the gates and let everyone in for free.
      He was the same bloke who ran on the pitch at the Orient game prior to this to attack their players.
      He was true to his word, literally hundreds of fans gained free access to the game.
    1. Pretty pink fairy's Avatar
      Pretty pink fairy -
      Quote Originally Posted by wigman View Post
      I remember being in the queue for the north stand, when a fan came along and said he was going to pay to go through the turnstile, open the gates and let everyone in for free.
      He was the same bloke who ran on the pitch at the Orient game prior to this to attack their players.
      He was true to his word, literally hundreds of fans gained free access to the game.
      I USED TO KNOCK ON A CERTAIN DOOR AND A STEWARD USE TO LET ME IN FOR FREE AT A NUMBER OF HOME GAMES, not what you know but who you know
      regards
      DR