Friday, 20 March 2009

Was Brighton now Stoke: Man and boy

I dearly wish that I could apply the monicker 'man and boy'. But I can't. As a boy I supported Brighton and Hove Albion.  As a man I support Stoke City.  

At least I must be in a minority. How many Albion fans shifted allegiance to Stoke?

It all started when my family moved to Sussex in 1975. I am so proud to have supported the local team. I saw them promoted at Newcastle in May 1979. All this has recently been brought back to me by reading Peter Ward's autobiography

I was at many of the games described in the first half of the book. I emailed Peter and the writer Matthew Horner to say that no one needs to write a biography of my life. I'd just read it. I remember Brighton losing away to someone like Preston and crying in bed until about 8pm one Saturday night. I was really into it. 

Yet, reading that book, I realised the exact point where I started losing interest in football. It was just after the Liverpool away game in the 1979-1980 season. I remember going to the last game of the season, at home to Everton, knowing we were leaving the area, and thinking that that period of my life was closed.

Ten years later and I was dragged back into football by two things: the world cup 1990 and my brother-in-law's support of Stoke.  I had been to a couple of games. But I went to see Stoke V Chester in early 91. Stoke quickly went down 3-0 and were something like 13th in the 3rd Division. 

The Boothen End started singing for a Chester FOURTH goal, and I realised at that moment that Stoke was the team I was going to support for the rest of my life. So I'm not Stoke, born and bred. More, adopted. 

And these days I'm comfortable with supporting Stoke but having a fond affection for Brighton, and especially the team that played in the late 1970s.