Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Kettering Town on Saturday 17th December 2016. We won 3-2 in front of 588 to stay second in the league.
The empty seats in the
'sell out' crowd and the flat atmosphere with people rushing in late
said all you need to know about Friday night football. Aston Villa to
be fair had turned up in their thousands, no doubt enjoying watching
their team winning after season after season of treading water in the
Premier League. A team that despite that failure are guaranteed
millions in parachute payments giving them a seriously unfair
came with a game plan, were proper strong and Brighton were lucky to
get a draw. Not so lucky were those trying to get home on the train.
At the last minute Southern Railway had told the club that because of
a lack of staff they couldn't put on trains. So people waited for
hours in the cold, some Villa fans missed connections and slept at
Southern often provide
a worse service when there isn't a strike, because they don't have
enough staff and rely on everyone doing overtime. When you
continually threatening those very same staff its not surprising that
they don't bend over backwards to help out. Clearly they
should lose their franchise and the service should be taken back into
public ownership; but despite a terrible track record, Govia were
given the government contract to push thru 'reforms' and get into a
punch-up with the unions.
Next up on the Friday
was Leeds United. Then its Reading. Saturday football seems to be a
distant memory for Albion fans, but when your £25 million in debt
and £100,000 is on offer for each televised game, its too tempting.
But its a funny old business that can piss off your most loyal
customers for people who want to watch it on the tele.
The Villa train fiasco
left the Albion hierarchy furious, but its not like it hasn't
happened before and maybe some of the blame should go to the TV
companies. On top of this Brighton get named as one of the most
expensive clubs to watch and once again their chief executive said it
was unfair as tickets include free travel but also this mythical
match-day experience. Even my safe standing questionnaire came with
the cravat - ok if you want it, who pays for it? But with such a flat
atmosphere at the Villa game, can Brighton afford not to introduce
it? That doesn't mean the club aren't well run they just have two feet
tied behind their backs because of the Premier parachute payments.
What they can be really
proud of it is their Albion in the Community (AITC) programme, which
rightly wins awards for its work with the added bonus of hooking
youngsters in for life.
AITC have 3 key
objectives: to inspire and motivate young people and their families
to be physically active and to lead healthy lifestyles; to provide
opportunities for young people to play football whatever their
ability or background; and to work with our local community,
particularly those that are disadvantaged, to help raise aspirations
and improve life chances.
My son and his mates has benefited
from free coaching over the last few years and is now in one of their
sponsored teams. The nominal fee of just £60 a season includes kit,
lifts to training and games, trips out and the chance to meet the
players. Listening to three 11 year olds talk about tactics or
watching how they have sussed the offside rule you know this coaching
is paying off.
use football to teach kids about everything from maths, English to
healthy eating and they are always in my sons school. So its not
surprising they have won a string of awards for their
pioneering work such as encouraging more women and girls to play
football. Their Premier League Kicks programme is now the
second-largest in the country, providing free weekly football to more
than 2,500 young people including my son and his friends. They
working with 100 schools across Sussex, support people with
disabilities and cancer, and have helped 550 young people to earn
qualifications by working with their education and skills team. If that all sounds a
bit po-faced it isn't and they really make a massive difference
delivering 61 projects to more than 36,000 people over the last 12
For this community work alone,
Brighton deserve to reach the Premier League Promised
Land – and maybe they should get their community arm to help run
the trains as well.