In my last article, I said that our defeat against Bayern Munich (7-2) was a “humungous catastrophe”. This game against Brighton, to me, was even worse. At least our loss against the German’s was against a top-quality side and to boot, German champions. Our defeat against Brighton was against a team that was at the wrong end of the table and had only won once before playing us.
For this match, I left home before 8 am and arrived just as they were closing the road for the Park & Ride buses to take us to the Brighton ground. From my home to Brighton it took just under two hours. It was a nice smooth ride (in fact, coming and going).
For 95 years Brighton – previously – played at the Goldstone Ground (1902–1997). That was until the board of directors decided to sell the stadium. The sale, implemented by majority shareholder Bill Archer and his chief executive, proved controversial. The move triggered extensive protests against the board, but to no avail. They were determined to seek a new home for the Seagulls.
In their last season at the Goldstone, 1996–97, the Seagulls were in danger of relegation from the Football League. They won their final game at the Goldstone against Doncaster Rovers, setting up a winner-takes-all relegation game at Hereford United, who were level on points with the Seagulls. Brighton drew 1–1, and Hereford were relegated to the Football Conference on goals scored.
For two years, from 1997 to 1999, the club shared Priestfield Stadium, the ground of Gillingham, before returning to Brighton to play at Withdean Stadium.
From there, they moved to their current and permanent home. But it was the Goldstone ground that I have some of my fondest memories, travelling with Spurs to their ground. One game in particular I remember, and that was on the 9 March 1982 when we beat them 3-1 on at the Goldstone Ground, that was in Division One. Happy memories.
The bendy bus trip took about 15 minutes. On the bus, I sat next to a senior citizen (lady) Brighton supporter, who told me about her journey to our stadium (against Brighton) and how wonderful she thought it was.
Upon leaving the bus, I made my way to the programme kiosk, purchased my programme, chatted to a few Spurs’ Stewards and then into the stadium. Got something to eat, and a few minutes later Beverley, Rick and his friend turned up. As they had different seating (this is because Rick is a season ticket holder and Beverley, like me, is a Premium member), Beverley sat near me.
I was optimistic for the game, but that optimism soon changed when they scored, and Lloris was injured and taken off. Even though I say I was confident, my gut was telling me something else.
Anyhow, our miserable week continued as we followed our Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich with a damaging and humiliating defeat at lowly Brighton. After our 7-2 drubbing in midweek, Mauricio Pochettino was expecting a response from his players, only for goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to gift Neal Maupay a bizarre howler opener.
In the process of that howler, our captain suffered a freak arm injury in the process, and Aaron Connolly compounded our problems by doubling Brighton’s lead on his first Premier League start.
In the second half, we made a positive start, but Connolly killed off any hope of us propelling a fightback as the 19-year-old Irish striker produced a well-taken strike for his second goal to seal Brighton’s first home win since March. We have now failed to win in our last away 10 games in the Premier League, stretching back to a 2-1 victory at Fulham on 20 January, and have lost 17 in all competitions in 2019 – more than any other top-flight side.
When the second goal went in the booing started, then the third and all hell broke out; with abuse added. There was even a fight between our own supporters, which needed the police, their Stewards and ours to intervene.
When the third goal went in, with 25 minutes left, our supporters started to leave. By the time the final whistle was blown Beverley and I was virtually alone (as I was when the final whistle went against Bayern).
After sitting there gobsmacked, we finally made our way out, meeting Rick and his friend. There we parted. I made my way to the Bendy bus queue to take me to my car. While waiting, I was chatting to Spurs and Brighton fans.
Brighton deserved their victory, they came to fight… they sensed blood and took their chances. Our player’s body language looked like they weren’t interested. Obviously, there are issues here, including contract disputes and individual players with problems.
I haven’t been so down since Tim Sherwood was our manager. Now I am starting to fear our next games. Our next away game will be against Liverpool, which will be followed by another away game (Everton). Before all this, we face struggling Watford at home (as Newcastle & Brighton were struggling before facing us). I am sure that all Premier League clubs will want to meet us and expect to take points away with them from our encounter.
Will a two-week break change anything? I hope so, but I can’t see it. I put the blame on Pochettino. He is the manager, and it is his responsibility to sort this out. We have the quality, just not the backbone and energy to fight our way out of this dilemma (it seems).
I finally got home at 6ish, after popping into Halfords.
The morning after, I watched MOTD and the Spurs game. It wasn’t any better and didn’t give me great hope for the foreseeable future.
Like any loyal supporter (and it is part of my life) I shall continue supporting our team, home and away (as one does), and no matter what, I will always be there (unless severe illness or death intervenes). But from past experience I’ve seen some of our supporters dwindle away because of the teams decline (hopefully, we are a long way from that, it is only the start of the season), but if that did happen this would be a very worrying situation for the board, who needs to fill our stadium. If we don’t improve, it will create a vicious circle (money=growth).
Let us end on a positive note; we can turn this around, and we are only at the start of the season. When Christmas comes along, hopefully, all our troubles will be a distant memory. See; my optimism is coming back. Oh, the weekend did end with something to cheer about; both Manchester club’s got beaten.
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