I am not going to pretend to be a big football fan. I once had a curious infatuation with a Bristol City goal keeper, John Shaw, which lead to me going to see a match between City and Bristol Rovers many, many years ago ... and I get carried along with the excitement of important England matches. But that is about it. The interest ends there.
Going to see Brighton play at home made it onto our list because of my husband who does love football and has always had a strong interest in the Brighton team being Brighton born and bred himself.
If you are to be taken to see a football match as a non-supporter, this was definitely the way to do it. We were guests of the Directors in the Boardroom enjoying full hospitality thanks to the generosity of a Charlton Athletic director my husband had been working with on a 'Sport in Education' research project. Martin Perry, the Executive Director of Brighton & Hove Albion, was a wonderful host - welcoming, amusing and clearly very proud of the stadium that he had built and the team that call it home.
|White chocolate pyramid mousse dessert - my kind of hospitality.|
Being guests of the directors meant that we had a dress code that I would not normally associate with football. Men were suited and ladies were expected to dress smartly too - strictly no jeans. I wore my standard, sophisticated little black dress and bought a gorgeous new grey flecked chunky knit wrap-around cardigan to wear over it to keep me warm when we ventured outside the Boardroom for the match itself. This was a naive mistake. Pale woolly flecks shed and deposited themselves all over my black dress. Total wardrobe malfunction. On top of this I felt rather self conscious about two items of underwear I had chosen with body sculpting technology. They seemed to be in competition with each other to push the flab in conflicting directions. One day I'll get it right but for now I feel I have a lot to learn about dressing to impress.
The match itself was a disappointing 0-0 draw but it didn't detract from the pleasure and the excitement of the near misses in the 90th minute as Brighton attacked Charlton Athletic's goal.
Although it was very cold watching the match (even with my problematic chunky knit and the loan of an Albion fleecy blanket) I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The roar of the crowd, the accuracy of passing, the bursts of speed when possession of the ball was won - these were all thrilling. Less thrilling was when play was a bit messy and difficult to follow. During these times I found my attention wandering. The way the sky changed from summer blue to inky black, the warm ups and stretches of the subs waiting for their chance of action on the pitch, the rituals of goal keepers left alone in the empty half of the field - all these things kept me entertained.
I'm sure my experience of the occasion was quite different from my husband's who was like an excited child. We bought him a team hat with the seagull logo as a souvenir.
I was very grateful for the loan of the hat on the cold journey back to our hotel.
On the back of the exciting 90th minute, I put a pound each way bet on a horse called Ninetieth Minute in today's Grand National. With odds of 100-1, I stood to make a great return on my small investment. I had already decided how I would spend my winnings.
Ninetieth Minute was pulled up on Fence 11 :(