It was that time of year for my furthest-away away day this season. Since the demise of poor Yeovil from the Super League, Brighton has become the mammoth trek I undertake. This time, Kate was fully on board as I had promised a weekend of sun (not likely), sea (very dependent on the first) and of course football. In order to make the most of our weekend away as well as it being cost effective we were up at the crack of dawn on the Saturday. The coach at quarter past 6 was not an easy one to stomach. We decided to go fancy by going by national express rather than a Megabus [Allie really does treat me like a princess, folks – Kate]. Like, you actually get a break on these ones to buy all of that service station nonsense you don’t ever need but mysteriously want once you cross that threshold. I just stuck with a double shot coffee to perk me up.
After a fairly smooth coach journey (which was a rarity I enjoyed having even if it doesn’t make for entertaining reading) We were in Victoria ready to head down to the seafront. However not before being outraged at the ticket cost to get to the great big blue. 50 quid!! For a forty minute journey!! The rail company may as well have a black mask and swag bag. Once I got over that shock, I had to have a bar of chocolate to regain focus. Ah, national rail ruining my bank balance and my waist line.
Finally in Brighton, we began our weekend in the place noted for fresh air and fun. (Five points to Hufflepuff if you get that reference.) I shall not bore you with those details as that not why you read this fine publication. I shall only give the highlights.
After being stung by Thameslink trains earlier, I told Kate I was to not spend any money on non-essential items. Let’s see how long this lasts.
Well…it lasts about the time it took us to walk from the station to the local second-hand shop. I tried to resist, dear readers, but they had stacks of old movie magazines. When I am not running up and down the country I watch black and white movies. If it was made after 1965 I generally don’t want to know. I told you I was cool. So, with my wallet even lighter, we head off to our accommodation.
Further highlights of our trip on the south coast were; lots of rain, some delicious Lebanese food and a trip to Brighton pier where, to escape the rain we found refuge in the amusements where we whiled away our time with the 2p machines. After all, it would rude not to. Half an hour later we came away with three packets of Tango flavoured jelly beans, three lollipops and a yo-yo. Can you tell how happy we are with our winnings.
Finally after a long day it was time to retire ready for the even longer day ahead.
Up bright and not so early on the Sunday, we went in search of some breakfast. After contemplating multiple options we finally settled on what we thought would be a nice simple place. After ordering toast with tea and a chai latte, we settled in to discuss the day ahead. Our food came and we thought nothing of it. Until I took a swig of my chai latte. Then almost promptly spat it back into the mug.
“What in god’s name is that?”
Kate looks at me like I lost my head “Chai latte like you asked for.”
“It bloody well isn’t it. And if it is worst one I have ever had.”
Kate takes a swig and pulls a face. I just look at her smugly with an I told you so face.
“I think that is a normal latte and she’s just dumped the chai mix in.” Twas not the nicest of experiences. With mediocre toast which was more liked scared bread, we had failed on the breakfast front.
After that joyfulness we headed off to get our train to Three Bridges. I wanted to get every last penny out those 50 quid tickets so we were gonna do what was our National Rail given right to do and have a break in journey. Perfectly legal and perfectly confusing to the ticket gate man, who tried to take our return tickets from us. I was about to quote the rule of carriage [Yes friends, I am dating (and you are reading the blog of) a rail nerd – Kate] at him until he waved us through the barrier. Either he didn’t fancy the argument or he knew I was right. I am going with the former.
We then had to work out our away to Crawley Town FC. I had been before, I knew there was bus. What direction that bus went and where you pick it up from? Nope, not a clue. After some bungling, we finally find the stop. At which we found there would be a 20-minute wait. In the rain. A very brief consultation decided that we would cab it. Which is a fine decision – the cab it however was not. Firstly, the driver chastised us for waiting in an awkward spot. When Kate explained we didn’t know as we were not local folk he still just kept repeating that we should be waiting in a more convenient place. Over and over again. After the longest 10 minutes ever we finally reach the ground. Where the driver just gestures wildly as where he us going to drop us off. Once again we explain we are foreigners in these parts. Still, no help so we tell him to chuck us out somewhere near the ground.
Second issue to arise was our giant backpack. Would they allow our camping monstrosity to be allowed through the gates? Turns out if you distract the steward with all the pretty and eclectic badges [Particularly the sparkly dragon one – Kate] on your other bag they wave you on through. Result for us, though slightly terrifying as we could have had anything that bag.
Finally through the gates, we wander down to where West Ham was warming up. After having a nice chat with Avit and being roped into being on his podcast we were joined by some follow hammers Mark and Emma (different people from the previously mentioned Emma and Mark) and took our seats for the game.
Where we saw my old nemesis the Brighton mascot. As you can read from my previous adventure on the south coast I managed to offend the seagull by giving them the crossed hammers. Well as said seagull came around again. Kate gave me the warning glare of don’t antagonize the mascot. But I couldn’t help it, folks, the crossed hammers came out. This time the seagull had a bit more of a sense of humour and just banged on the Brighton badge in retaliation. Well played, Sally Seagull, well played.
We were joined by more hammers so we could be strong in voice. Unfortunately, Reece my partner in crime from the American Hammers could not join us. He claims it was train issues, I say he didn’t want to face the cold on the south coast.
The girls troop out in claret and pink this time wearing the new breast cancer awareness shirt. Great idea, noble cause but maybe with different shorts. Claret and Pink did clash rather. Right coin has been tossed game on.
We started brightly against the seagulls and Martha Thomas gave them trouble from the start causing their defenders to go in for some bone-crunching tackles. However, it was Brighton who had the first clear chance of the game. Whelan with a powerful shot from outside the box rattling our crossbar. This seemed to shake the team slightly and we ended up making some tackles that we’re dangerously close to red card offences. Our German defender Laura Vetterlein went leg clattering challenge on Brighton’s Umotong which she was lucky to only earn her a yellow.
We as fans decided we needed to gee them up a bit. So we started to sing. A lot. It started with standard Bubbles and We Love You, West Ham. Mark, on the other hand, was prepared with some of his own for each player. My personal favourite is for Gilly, I just can’t get the timing right. [Any former boy scout should be able to get the hang of it pretty quickly though – Kate]
Well it seemed to work as five minutes later Martha Thomas scored a beauty of a goal. Catching Brighton off guard with Alisha bombing it up the pitch from a goal kick. A swift pass to Martha who smashed it home smack bang in the centre of the goal.
0-1 to the girls in claret and pink.
This seemed to liven the game up and both sets of players were gunning for possession which led to some very tasty football let me tell you. We carried on chanting for them to get the ball moving once again. Except Kate. Kate sat there cold. [It was CHUFFIN FREEZIN my love, I was singing internally – Kate]
Finally, the whistle blew for half time and the girls all trooped in to get warm.
Emma kindly offered to go get us a brew and Kate was turning slightly blue from cold. So much so she had cracked out a blanket and big winter coat. With her glasses which she needs to watch the game, she looked like an owl. Her words not mine. Which led to the discussion of classic children literature. Who says West Ham fans aren’t civilised. Anyone else remember the owl who was afraid of the dark? [His name was Plop and I loved him very much when I was six years old – Kate] Anyway with tea in hand, the girls back out, we are ready for the second half.
Once again this game started to get physical from the offset. Within the first five minutes, we had a shot inching wide, a free kick awarded due to a bad foul and then three fouls awarded against us. Phew!
Then 15 minutes in, disaster struck. It seems that Brighton had held on to that foul by Laura Vetterlein and had been gunning for her all game. A ferocious foul in the 60th minute knocked her out cold. A tense few minutes whilst the medics were on the pitch working on getting her round. The relief was palpable when she managed to walk off the pitch herself for her own substitution. On comes Hendrix who has been in phenomenal form so here is hoping that was about to continue.
Ten minutes later we caught another break as Brighton were getting desperate. A nasty challenge by Kerkdijk to stop Martha who was on goal meant a pen to us.
We all looked around at each other slightly confused. Do we have a dedicated pen taker? Our money was on Cho after her fantastic one versus Reading last year. However, it was Dali who stepped up. Cool as you like, no stuttering, she sends the keeper the wrong way and slots it home in the right hand corner.
0-2 to the Cockney girls. Which is exactly what we sing at them. We haven’t shut up all game. In fact Reece tells me we have made the FA Player commentator stop a few times as we drowned them out.
Three minutes later we get our third. Alisha who had been looking sluggish all game perked up when Leon came on the pitch. Some quick play from out back and our Norwegian superstar Kvamme made a punt up the right flank. This fell beautifully to Alisha who scored with a powerful shot from outside the box.
0-3 to the visitors. We were cruising, and us little group of about 12 were out shouting the entire home crowd. Except for Kate who was still sat there cold. She was enjoying herself honest. [I was! I can be cold and enjoy the football at the same time! – Kate]
We kept that edge up until the 93rd moment when a scrappy clearance led to Brighton getting one back. Which was the final score down on the south coast.
As the players did their lap of honour we treated them to a rousing rendition of Bubbles ,which I am sure they appreciated – we even had a few of them singing along.
With that, we trooped out of the ground to hopefully get a nicer Uber driver to head back home via Birmingham.
How Claret is Kate? She sat through the entire match and cheered at the right moments. We are getting her there folks.