Well, I saw the first match on the television and have listened to the others on the radio. Today was the turn of one of those dodgy foreign streams.
Now, I appreciate that had I been a Leeds United supporter, you know that English football giant that won a trophy as recently as 1997 (FA Youth Cup) I may have got to this place a lot earlier. But the media dinosaurs are clearly as old as me and don’t regard a number of clubs like the Albion as worthy of wider viewing than the obligatory text on the BBC online pages. Even after today’s events the BBC had Derby County v Leeds United as their top Championship listing. 1975 it is then.
But I’m going to dare leapfrog to this afternoon in 2015. After the usual dash home from my presently failing job, with my prospects as bright as through ball to a Bolton Wanderers forward, I chose to settle in and watch the flaky pictures.
After trying a number of recommended links from my helpful friends on NSC, and getting the obligatory pack of fags ready to steady the journey, I circumvented the annoying ads and try to make out the score line on the watery screen.
Now, I may wear specs, and good ones they are. But despite taking them off, and putting them on again, the strip at the bottom of the screen appeared to remain unaltered. It was about the 30th minute and I had decided that my homage to this honorary method of watching the Albion would mean that it would be the first purveyor of the match situation. However, Ipswich Town 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 warranted a visit to other pages to confirm the score. NSC was full of jumping little yellow men, and the BBC seemed to also, but begrudgingly, endorse this bewildering sight. As incredulous that folk may be at my disbelief, it must be understood that the real men in yellow appeared to be playing an open and attacking brand of football. Remember, I attended over 30 matches last season. Surely, if this score line was to be believed, Rohan Ince would be on by now and Chris O’Grady would be looking forlornly down the pitch with only the opposition keeper to natter with for company.
No, today, as the pictures stabilised, I had the joy of sporting treat. A free flowing Albion, connected and spiriting like a team who had been playing together for years- and with talent showing its fullest. It was a delightful match, a great spectacle for the neutral. Even after Town had equalised Albion failed to revert back to old ways. Had they done so the third goal would not have come. And this is the point. My old Physics teaching always told me that Application + Ability = Success. Today underlined this. I haven’t felt as encouraged as this by an Albion away performance for a while. A number of us thought that the Seagulls were afforded a kindly August fixture list, but the win today suggests that this summer’s re-grouping, and subsequent squad additions (plus those who haven’t left) has turned ‘I Wish’ in to ‘What if’. A change of four letters, the same amount I would have thrown at the screen had we undeservedly lost.
It’s strange how the emotional involvement of a game renders the awful clarity of the pictures irrelevant. Except when it buffers at the most defining of moments, which thankfully it didn’t today. Emotional today was, with the victims of the Shoreham air crash being remembered through the black arm bands, and Stockers specially crafted gloves. This would have certainly given added drive to our players, and honour was most certainly brought through their efforts.
If this season continues as it has started it will make not being at the matches harder to bear. That said, the rituals and enjoyment of other media are beginning to take hold. The radio samples the atmosphere of the game in much exactitude, the text of BBC pages brings more heart stopping moments than the match itself, and the fuzzy frames of the online streams take me back to a bygone age. Anyway, if I turned up at a match now I’d probably jinx the whole season.
Can this present optimism be maintained ? Only next May will tell ‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully’ And a very misty mirror it was online today….
Up the Albion.