• Brighton But Stuck at Home #1 – Arsenal at Home

    If you’d asked me, back in December 2019 when we beat Arsenal away, what I’d be doing in June 2020 the answer would have been obvious. Whilst it probably would have been sunny outside I would have been sitting on my sofa watching football with The Boy, perhaps with a cold drink in my hand. I would, however, have been thinking about the massive travelling circus that was going to be Euro 2020. Teams. WAGs and press travelling the continent and racking up the air miles in the most bizarrely crafted show of “screw you planet” hubris seen since Eurovision admitted the Australians. But, hey, it would have been a continuation of a football season with my beloved England actually in with a chance of the trophy. Perhaps we’d have had some friends round or been to theirs, burgers on the barbie, womenfolk rolling their eyes and telling us off for celebrating too loudly in front of the kids. That sort of thing.

    If you’d told me that I would indeed be on my sofa but watching Premier League I’d have told you to lay off the drugs. If you’d added that it would have been Brighton, at the Amex but with no fans present and all the non playing staff in facemasks I’d have told you to quit the booze as well. And if you’d added that those players would be wearing “Black Lives Matter” on their shirts instead of their names and taking the knee at kickoff I’d have thrown you in the Priory and binned off the key. Welcome to 2020.

    The bizarre set of circumstances that have got us here are well documented in NSC, both in the Coronavirus sub forum and the Bear Pit, and I don’t intend to repeat them here. We are where we are. But here’s the thing. Back in The Championship I wrote a blog called “Brighton But Only at Home”, mainly because, at the time I started it, away games were a no no with a young family. Not so now. Well, I don’t mean right now as no one can go to any game, but I mean The Boy has grown from an annoying 8 year old asking non stop questions to a teenager nearly the same size as me who’s been to more away grounds than I had at his age. But, again, I digress. The point is I used to write about home games and then I stopped. But now I’m writing again because this stuff is just too damn weird and historic. In a hundred years time kids will specifically study the year 2020 and they will shake their heads and say “poor sods” before zooming home on their electric jet pods to immerse themselves in Fortnite Season 437, VR Strikes Back.

    This is a lot of writing but not much football, but the point is scene setting. This is not Exile’s excellent match reports with artwork and everything. It’s an attempt to document what we were doing yesterday with a bit of football thrown in.

    Normally at about half 12 I’d be clearing away lunch hurriedly and stressing about Steve getting here on time, even though he’s ex Military and just as punctual as me. I’d be checking my pockets for my season cards and my phone to see that Southern Rail hadn’t Donald Ducked the trains again. Then our friends would arrive and we’d begin worrying about whether we’d actually be able to get on the train. Once squeezed in I’d try to get the phone out, despite being wedged under someone’s armpit and put a one pound correct score bet on for the kids, despite the 4G connection being rubbish. Yesterday at half 12 I was queueing outside Tesco, making sure I was two metres away from everyone else. Then I walked round it in a painful one way system, avoiding anyone browsing, in order to pick up a few snacks. On the way back I stopped at The Foghorn micro pub to pick up a 4 pint takeaway of IPA, again ensuring I stayed two metres away from the other boozers.

    For the last few months I have shamefully lived in knackered shorts and old t-shirts (and grown a beard). Yesterday, for some reason, I felt compelled to put on my nice jeans and a Lacoste polo shirt (I don’t do replica clothing). The man behind me in the Foghorn queue however, did do replica clothing and had a NHS branded Brighton shirt. “Looking forward to the game?” asked the bar keep. This was as close to a sense of occasion as it was possible to get.

    At 2pm the teams came out. That morning, on the Official Match Thread, I had been confident of a win. It’s fair to say that confidence drained from me the second I saw our selection. Schelotto at right back in a four? Against Pepe, Abamayang and Lacazette? The Schelotto that is great at marauding forward but cannot defend? That Schelotto? But that was ok because, if it didn’t work out, we had not one but two right backs on the bench. Talking of two of things we’d also picked Gross and Mooy in the same team, who are essentially the same player, only one is hairy and German and the other is Jean Luc Picard with a charisma bypass. And Trossard up front. Essentially three number 10s. Never, ever say you know how Potter will line up.

    As the boy and I settled on the sofa, choosing the “piped crowd noise” channel because I wanted to see what they’d do with our atmosphere, our anxiety grew. I poured an IPA and hoped for the best. But early on that hope seemed false. Arsenal immediately attacked down our right, just as I would have instructed them to had I been in charge and Saka took us to bits, cut inside and hit a blistering shot against the bar. My thoughts turned to how to keep the score down. The Boy looked paler than at any point during lockdown.

    It didn’t get any better with a textbook Dunk block before Ryan made a superb stop from a Lacazette header. And that’s where I knew the soundtrack was false. Absolutely no doubt the North Stand would have led a rousing chant of “Maty Ryan Socceroo….” to celebrate the save. The soundtrack just played on, lifelessly.

    But then came the moment that would define the game and that we are still talking about this morning. Propper lofted the ball forward on one of our rare attacks and Maupay chased. Leno came out and claimed perilously close to the edge of the box. Maupay challenged, as was his right, with a small shoulder charge that would have gone unnoticed at any other part of the ground, and Leno’s knee went from under him in a hideous mess. “That’s the second North London keeper we’ve messed up at that end” said The Boy, unhelpfully. It was clear he was coming off and in a lot of trouble. Break? Dislocated knee? ACL? Whichever it was he had enough adrenaline in his body to sit up on his stretcher and loudly blame Maupay for his predicament. Thus the stage was set for an increasingly bad tempered match.

    At half time two things happened. Firstly my daughter needed technical help with the laptop so she could Zoom call her best mate (Zoom calls are another thing that the children of a hundred years time will shake their heads over). As I fiddled with mic and camera settings The Boy winced at a replay of the Leno incident. By the time I’d sorted the laptop (three different settings, lots of “can you hear me now” and one hissy fit) half time was nearly over. I rewound the TV to view the Leno incident again. And forgot to wind it forward.

    I also missed that we’d made a sub, but March was on for Picard and we’d gone five at the back (or three), at least for now. March appeared to be in a LWB role. Again, for now (he would pop up at winger, right back and other places despite the June heat). We immediately looked better.

    Well, better at least until Abamayang was released and scored, only to be ruled marginally offside. Then an open period in which Martinez and Ryan traded saves and it looked like a goal was coming for someone. And, indeed, it arrived, but unfortunately it came from Pepe. There seemed little danger when he was found on the wide right but he cut in and bent an exquisite shot into the top corner. 0-1. Boo. More beer. The Boy sulked.

    More changes. On came Connolly and Montoya. Now Gross, Mooy and Schelotto were all off. We forced a corner. March and Trossard worked a quick one-two short one, the ball skidded across the face of goal and Dunk stuck it in far enough to set off goal line technology correctly. 1-1 and we went fruit loop mental.

    A little later and I had still forgotten the coverage was a few minutes behind due to my rewind. The Boy had forgotten that I’d told him to turn off his Premier League alerts just in case. So it was his phone buzzed. “Oh” he grinned. I missed the inference of the grin. “Was that your phone alert? We’ve lost haven’t we?”. “Er, no” he replied. Even as I was processing that information, on the screen MacAllister who had come on fed Connolly , who flicked through for Maupay, who finished. Despite both of us knowing it was coming you could hear the celebration in Southwick. 90 + 5. Game done.

    And, normally, that would be it. But there are two postscripts. Firstly a clash between Maupay and Guendouzi at the end in which the latter grabbed Neal by the throat.

    Then we stayed watching BT Sport for the analysis and Jake Humphrey, the bloke whose job it is merely to present and leave the opinions to the actual people who have played the game, opined that Maupay’s challenge had been completely unnecessary, despite no action from Martin Atkinson on the field, none from VAR and Rio Ferdinand putting him back in his box. To cap it all they showed, not the throat grabbing but an incident where Guendouzi had flicked out at Maupay, who had, admittedly, made the most of it. BT Sport’s anti Brighton agenda continues.

    But then nothing is surprising about 2020. First double, first win of the calendar year, first behind closed doors win of the Amex era and first presenter to get something completely wrong. Cheers. See you on Tuesday.
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Harry Wilson's tackle's Avatar
      Harry Wilson's tackle -
      Very good reportage.
    1. AmexRuislip's Avatar
      AmexRuislip -
      Quote Originally Posted by Harry Wilson's tackle View Post
      Very good reportage.


      Yes, totally
    1. Harry Wilson's tackle's Avatar
      Harry Wilson's tackle -
      Quote Originally Posted by AmexRuislip View Post
      Yes, totally
      Have I used too long a word for you again?
    1. AmexRuislip's Avatar
      AmexRuislip -
      Quote Originally Posted by Harry Wilson's tackle View Post
      Have I used too long a word for you again?

      Affirmative HWT
    1. Guinness Boy's Avatar
      Guinness Boy -
      Thanks chaps....
    1. golddene's Avatar
      golddene -
      good read thanks GB
    1. Blatter's Avatar
      Blatter -
      Good to see you writing match reports again. I've missed your BBOAH missives.
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