County Stamp Out Relegation Threat
Notts County 1-1 Brighton (07:05:11)
A warm welcome back to Brighton fan and all-round genius David Hartrick....
Okay, I suppose we better address the EFW match-report shaped elephant in the room.
My last article from the Oldham vrs Brighton game this season may have contained one or two factual errors. I know that it's been some time since Earl Barrett was the mainstay of the Oldham defence. I'm fairly certain you can't buy a strawberry daiquiri at half-time at Boundary Park. Bernard Cribbins never told me a filthy story about his time voicing the Wombles.
Now in my defence this situation was partly caused by the fact I may not have *actually* attended the game. I understand that this is an unconventional approach to writing a report about an untelevised match but I wanted to see if I could pull it off.
Before we leave the subject I suppose I ought to mention that I also knew Oldham didn't play on a plastic pitch anymore but how would you have crow-barred in a Katie Price gag?
Destination for the day & conclusive proof I was at the game (.ish)
Therefore it was decided, if I wrote a second match report for EFW Danny had some ground rules, first among them to actually attend the game. Weighing up my options I agreed this was probably the best way to go about things and tossed my pre-prepared Nottingham research in the bin. I say research, I bought a copy of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves from Amazon. It wasn't even very good. Kevin Costner's accent was rubbish.
My journey from Huddersfield should have been straight forward enough train wise but thanks to the good people at the rail company, they contrived to give me two options. The first was I go from Huddersfield and face a journey back that would piss Phileas Fogg off. The second was to cajole the wife into driving me to Leeds station and have a slightly easier time of things all-round. Luckily the wife agreed to do me the favour and it only cost me several nights looking after our daughter, an agreement that I would load the dishwasher for the next six months and £250's worth of vouchers for selected clothing stores of her choosing (last time she negotiated the same clause without specifying and £250's worth of Anne Summers didn't go down well. She did get some lovely pyjamas though).
And so that's how I found myself on the train from Leeds with virtually every exhibitor at the International Stamp exhibition to be held in Sheffield on the same day. Now these are serious men with a serious hobby, albums and suitcases were being guarded like they held the deeds to heaven itself. Once I'd exhausted my stamp banter by asking how much a first class goes for nowadays, I opted to sit back and watch. Around me pockets of horse-trading were in full swing but in hushed tones, stamp swaps being conducted in the same fashion as most drug deals occur. I decided to amuse myself by trying to think of stamp based footballing puns and I'll be honest, after Phil Stamp and Kingsley (Penny) Black there's nothing.
As we passed Sheffield and they exited the train I have to confess I felt a little sad. I had just witnessed a conversation between two men, one of whom was as mad as ten bears that North Sea gas isn't called British Gas. When his friend interjected that you can go with British Gas as your supplier he was quickly shot down with a Partridge/Tanoy-esque 'that's the company not the product'. I felt lonely, the only other passenger in the carriage was reading the Daily Mail and clearly not up for a discussion about utilities but undeterred, I made my connection in good time and hit Nottingham already writing paragraphs of this report in my head.
Having met up with Danny Last of this very parish and a suitably merry band of men (damn you Costner, get out of my head) a few sleeves were downed in preparation of the game ahead. The use of the word sleeves by myself prompted some heavy discussion as to what pints can be called across the country. After a journey through bevvies, yards and pots it was decided that sleeves was better than all of them as 'short-sleeves' could be used for whisky, gin etc. It was now 2:30 and we were yet to talk about football in any capacity. After another 15 minutes spent talking about the wonder of Greggs, we were just about ready to head to the game.
Greggs: The most fun you can have with your clothes on
Now this was an unusual game for a Brighton fan as technically, it was a dead rubber and for the very best of reasons. As title winners there was somewhat of a party atmosphere as fancy dress appeared to be the order of the day. Having spoken to Jesus, the Queen, Osama bin Laden (he'd had a busy week), several Captain Americas, a tiger having a cigarette and a special Brighton-blue Morph, costume of the day for me personally was the Dalek.
(Doctor) Who are ya?
Not often you go to a game and see a Dalek but I would suggest they could be a welcome addition to the fancy dress pantheon, but only if you're prepared to sweat for your art.
And so to the game (I know what you're thinking - at last! - but if you do come to me for a match report you can usually expect a good 700 words of nonsense before the main event).
County needed a win to guarantee their safety, a draw would do depending on Dagenham and Walsall's respective results. This was a last day where right across the league's nearly everything was settled and to be fair, County were in the box seat themselves to escape. The dream scenario for us Brighton fans was that County survived thanks to results elsewhere so nothing soured the mood, it's a long way to come to have a load of disappointed fans scream at you as you walk to the station wearing a Spiderman outfit otherwise. Kick-off time came and after locating a completely empty bar to purchase drinks and sausage rolls (pastry to meat ratio poor) as and when required, we made our way to our seats in high spirits.
Despite the nerves of a last day relegation possibly hanging over their heads the County fans were in outstanding voice but had bought a drummer with them. Ten minutes into the first half I offered to leave the safety of the Jimmy Sirrel Lower and hunt the drummer down in order to place said instrument somewhere where it is almost impossible to beat a drumstick rhythmically. I'm not a killjoy but if there's one thing I can't stand at a football ground its bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.
Brighton scored early, Ashley Barnes curling in from the edge of the box but in truth many of the Albion players were playing with their flip-flops and swimming shorts on. There was a lazy feeling to proceedings and when Gordon Greer's own goal bought County level plus results were going their way elsewhere, the jovial atmosphere among the Brighton fans spread to the whole ground. By halftime it had become reasonably clear that County were going to do just enough and Brighton were going to make it back to the Spanish coast without serious injury.
Just an example of some of the fun to be had at halftime
The second half started with County on top but then as news of Walsall and Dagenham both having mountains to climb filtered through, the game reduced to the deadest of dead rubbers. County finished on top, Brighton finished getting their money changed into Euros. The final whistle was greeted with a good natured pitch invasion as the best of all possible worlds had indeed occurred. A love-in between fans of both clubs then ensued as essentially it had never mattered for Brighton and County had played well enough to show their fans even if results hadn't gone their way, they could still have possibly got the win.
And so home-time loomed and what had we learnt? That 'sleeves' is the best word for pints, stamp collectors are quite possibly the best people to share a train with for an hour, British Gas is the company and not the product and that Greggs is wonderful and the one in Huddersfield stays open till 2 o'clock in the morning. All in all a productive day then.
Maybe you were right and there is something to be said for actually going to the game Danny.
Meadow Lane panoramic action, tick
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