• Leicester City 2-0 Albion

    Premier League, August 19 2017

    Scanners beeped on the turnstile, the last few hundred fans bowled in, a roar immediately surged. Leicester had scored, and this didn’t feel like one of those days when the opener would herald a barnstorming Albion rebuke.

    It’s easier to say in hindsight, but within minutes it was clear the team were well off the pace of play and speed of thought around them, apart from Bruno, who had an excellent afternoon down the right with a composed display of fine passing, and, later, Knockaert, who repeatedly charged towards the penalty area with a verve no-one else could summon. Our best player is still being eased back into the team after injury, and came on too late, well into the second half, after Leicester’s most noticeable player, Harry Maguire, had headed in too easily within ten minutes of the restart.

    It was by no means a terrible Albion performance – the early goal aside, this was as respectable as the show against Man City, and the fact that Albion are much more used to playing Leicester too easily overlooks the fact that they have won The Greatest League in the World since we last met, still spiking with much of the talent that achievement required. City always had monolithic centre-backs in the Championship, but Maguire appeared particularly massive, belying his giant frame to repeatedly play the ball out comfortably alongside the equally confident Wes Morgan.

    Dunky, by contrast, couldn’t seem to stop missiling long balls closer to the back of the stands than his targets, and Mat Ryan was conspicuous for the saves he didn’t make, where Stockdale would possibly have pulled off a wonderstop for at least one of the goals, albeit in exchange for a rick at a less threatening moment.

    Up in the stands, there was the kind of sea change in atmosphere that always seems several times more likely when Albion have a big away game.

    It goes like this: a reasonable proportions of fans on either side exchange signals and chants which are just aggressive enough to make everything feel a tiny bit uncomfortable, with just the right amount of singling out across thin partitions. Someone, for reasons that can only be known in the deepest recesses of hammered homophobes, shouts something laughably homophobic, at which point the security staff might still not get involved, except for the fact that the people doing it are so batshit that by this point they’re unwittingly doing everything they can to make themselves heard and seen.

    The stewards, who have already filmed enough evidence, pluck out the homophobes, at which point a wearying and familiar slow dance occurs in which ruddy-faced men angrily protest a deluded innocence to the point of nearly lashing out at people who have had ten fewer pints and ten years more training in combat situations than them.

    There remains a pretty thick line between what is and isn’t accepted among football supporters. Is education the answer? Possibly, but if you don't know the difference between bantz and bigotry by middle age, a handy guide probably ain't gonna help. It's just a tedious occasional part of an away trip, like the generations of angry onions in passed-down Stone Island affecting mockney tribalism and bemoaning "birds" in between calling out other Albion fans on the trains.

    It deflects from the broadness and brilliance of Albion's support on an awayday. It's boring, nothing more, and public indignation is more likely to reinforce stereotypes of fans rather than rid grounds of dying prejudices, which should disappear further if any of those security cameras were working.

    Or maybe these assumptions just reflect the privileged vantage point of being part of an extremely tolerant set of fans. What do we know? Only that Saturday was a weirdly great awayday, and we've got two of the division's form teams next. Good luck to us.

    Full thing here[/B]