• Opinion - Clickbait Derbies Survived, Now For the Real Plastics

    “Plastic”, “Tin pot”, “Little club”.

    “So called biggest club in the South”, “Arrogant”...

    So said the internet message boards of a couple of rival clubs recently. Not about each other but about us. Yes, those two somewhat opposite views can be attributed to fans of Sheffield Wednesday and Reading respectively. It’s patently obvious that both cannot be true (and I’ll come back to where the truth is in a bit) but for me they sum up where each of those clubs’ fans really place themselves. One in an authentic Northern grief hole dining out on the days when Chris Waddle played for them while the others know, deep down, that while they have relative recent success there isn’t much history to trade on.

    What they were both agreed on was that our unbeaten record was undeserved, that we hadn’t played anyone decent (conveniently ignoring the fact we beat the new league leaders at home) and that they would be the side to inflict our first defeat. Two typically well organised performances later neither did. Two more points picked up. Two more games added to the undefeated record. Probably a Stockdale slip up from that being four points (and please don’t give him stick, he’s been magnificent this season). Both sides – or rather both sides’ fans with internet access – could talk the talk but neither they nor us could walk the walk on the pitch. Stalemate but record preserved. We’re off the top but only on goal difference.

    So how can we be both plastic and arrogant at the same time? Why is it that Brighton riles certain sides’ trolls so much?

    To understand where we are you need to have done a bit of research, or at least be of a certain age. Brighton are hard to understand because we’ve had so much history, though at the beginning it was unremarkable. “It’s never dull being a Brighton fan” is something I’ve heard from many people of my age and yet, for many years, it was. We were formed in 1901, got to the Charity Shield ten years later and then did nothing much at all until the early Seventies. Signing Bobby Smith and winning Division Three (South) was probably all we were known for. Not that it was insignificant down here. The Goldstone’s record attendance of 36,747 was set in 1958.

    Anyway, then Mike Bamber became Chairman and suddenly Brian Clough turned up at the club. He didn’t last long, mind, but momentum was set in place that would see us get to the top flight, get to a Cup Final and see fans regularly locked out of a packed Goldstone. Relegation in the same year as we got to Wembley started the rot and football hooliganism (and Mrs Thatcher’s reaction to it) set it in. By the end of the eighties we were playing dull football in front of crowds of eight to ten thousand, This was still preferable to the mid nineties mind you.

    We all know what happened from there. Archer and Bellotti. Protests and bonfire building. Sale, rent back, relegation, York City, Fans United, Hereford, Gillingham, Dick Knight, Withdean. But that’s the point. WE all know. However, if you are an eighteen year old today you would have been born in 1997 ish (I’m assuming the writer of the Owlstalk preview was eighteen or younger, at least in mental age). And if you’re that age and you’ve done no research then Brighton were simply a League One or Two side with a crap ground and few fans for all of your life. Those thirty thousand crowds? Clough, Mullery, Ward, they were all too difficult to look up. Why bother checking Withdean’s capacity or temporary status when you can just do bum jokes?

    So. Big club delusions or tin pot nobodies? The truth, as ever, is neither and both. Look round The Amex and you will see a lot of grizzled geezers from Lancing and Littlehampton, Hastings and Whitehawk. You will also see a few neat new DFL families in brand new scarves. The Albion Roar last week accidentally summed this up with their guests. One, a regular on here and as authentic a Brighton fan as there is, the other born in London and a former Liverpool fan, a TV star who moved here and bought a North Stand ticket along with the house. Both are welcome. Both are necessary. In this day and age, like it or not, you cannot turn people away. In fact the club has been massively successful in NOT turning people away. In terms of home attendance we are one of the biggest clubs in the division. Fact. I suspect it’s this that riles both Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.

    What’s more neither of those two thought our current position was sustainable. A quick look round the parks of the surrounding area gives me hope that they are again wrong. Look at your average youth team training this weekend, particularly in the younger age groups, and it won’t be Arsenal or Chelsea or Man Utd shirts the kids will be wearing. It will be Brighton.

    The annoying thing is that there is a much easier target in this division. A team that is entirely fabricated. A team that can barely pull in fifteen thousand at home, the vast majority of them fans of someone else who just happen to live somewhere in the middle of England. A team for who the terms “plastic” and “tin pot” were invented. A franchise. Modern football at its worst. And we’re playing them this weekend.

    Palace are unfortunately lording it over us and hostilities, on the field at least, are suspended. Pompey have gone the other way. There is no real game to get the dander up this season. There may have been some (to be honest quite passive-aggressive) trading of words between us and our last two opponents but it really wouldn’t have cut much to lose the unbeaten record to either. This Saturday, however, we simply can’t. If there is one team I don't want to lose the record to it's Franchise City. Their very presence is an abomination. This Saturday we have to win not only for our league position but to contribute to sending a truly plastic club back to where they belong.


    Read more from Guinness Boy at Brighton, But Only at Home
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Discodoktor's Avatar
      Discodoktor -
      I dislike Reading more!
    1. Papa Lazarou's Avatar
      Papa Lazarou -
      Good article - Franchise need to be dispatched with aplomb.
    1. Mackenzie's Avatar
      Mackenzie -
      One point of order!

      The 87/88 season under Barry Lloyd is still probably my favourite ever. I was too young to appreciate the Mullery years so the excitement of that season (as a 14 year old) is the reason why I'm so hooked on Brighton these days. It may have been many things but it wasn't dull.

      I enjoyed the read, thank you and well done.
    1. Guinness Boy's Avatar
      Guinness Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by North Stand Nutter View Post
      One point of order!

      The 87/88 season under Barry Lloyd is still probably my favourite ever. I was too young to appreciate the Mullery years so the excitement of that season (as a 14 year old) is the reason why I'm so hooked on Brighton these days. It may have been many things but it wasn't dull.

      I enjoyed the read, thank you and well done.
      Cheers. I was 16 that season and it was the first time I went to away games with my mates. It was a truly wonderful season. Nelson and Bremner up front scoring for fun, Doug Is Evil kicking people. Nothing plastic about that season either.
    1. Mackenzie's Avatar
      Mackenzie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Guinness Boy View Post
      Cheers. I was 16 that season and it was the first time I went to away games with my mates. It was a truly wonderful season. Nelson and Bremner up front scoring for fun, Doug Is Evil kicking people. Nothing plastic about that season either.
      Ditto those away games. On the train to Walsall and Bristol with mates, Nelson scoring against Arsenal, the night game when we took apart Northampton.....Bristol Rovers in the sun and promotion.

      Happy days.

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