Thursday, August 04, 2011

Support, encouragement and understanding. Not foot-stamping belligerence.

As well as casting his critical ear over albums and gigs, Bobbysix's Rob Townsend also writes a weekly column about football, for newspaper The Argus. This week's column, the first of the season, was vetoed by the editor for being a bit controversial, so you'll read something much more bland - penned in about ten minutes flat by a very stressed Mr Townsend - in this Friday's paper. However, we ain't afraid of no football fans here at, so here is the banned editorial, in all its glory. It will only appeal/make sense to football lovers really. Normal music/fashion/culture service to be resumed at later today:

This is surely the most anticipated season ever for fans of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club as, after 14 nomadic years, the club moves into its brand new £100m state-of-the-art stadium. So it's a shame that I feel obliged to use my first column of the campaign to speak about something genuinely disappointing.

I've been lending a hand behind the scenes at The American Express Community Stadium over the summer as the club frantically prepares for the first league game there on Saturday. The hard work and long hours are, of course, worthwhile, as we are all building towards something special. Sadly though, the excitement and positivity felt by many of Albion's workforce has long-since been eroded as the club has been bombarded by a barrage of aggression and negativity from a minority of supporters.

It's been the busiest pre-season I've ever known at Brighton and Hove Albion and, inevitably, there have been teething problems with the big move, yet the lack of understanding from certain sections of Albion's support – both long-term followers and newbies – is bewildering. I'm all in favour of constructive criticism, but the vitriol with which a number of people have aired their views is something that I genuinely haven't heard since the darkest days.

As we all settle into our new home, Albion fans need to be at their most understanding and tolerant. There have been, and will continue to be, glitches over ticketing, swipe cards, phone-lines, catering, parking and so on, but these things will steadily iron themselves out. In the meantime, the moaners need to see the bigger picture. The club has gained 15,000 new season ticket holders and has gone from having one corporate portakabin to a host of swanky lounges. I understand that everybody wants their Amex experience to be just perfect - we've waited so long for it after all - but anyone who thought such a massive upgrade in facilities would be a smooth and easy transition is kidding themselves.

What the club requires right now is support, encouragement and understanding. What doesn't help is the kind of foot-stamping belligerence that was displayed at the recent fans forum. Nor does it need people shouting and swearing down the phones or sending angry emails about the pies being too hot or the fact that Tottenham were a terrible choice of friendly opponent because of Harry Redknapp's Pompey and Saints connections (those were both actual complaints).

Rest assured the Albion staff aren't deliberately trying to ruin your season, nor are they a bunch of hopeless incompetents. They love the Albion just as much as you and are simply tired, stressed and close to breaking point as they work really, really hard to complete this massive task.

So, if the ticketing website is playing up, if you have to queue to get through on the phone, if the food kiosk runs out of pies (or if they're too hot), if your top-up doesn't work or if your email doesn't get answered immediately, don't get angry. Things will run smoothly soon enough and the club will do their very best to deal with your concerns. In the meantime, forget the teething troubles and give yourself a reality check by basking in the glory of our beautiful new home. It's a universe away from Withdean, so why tarnish the experience with petty concerns? Enjoy the game and let's all pull together and turn The Amex into the cauldron of noise we could only dream of at Withdean.

So, since I posted the above, I have had nothing but positive feedback, from the man in the street, to Albion staff to the bigwigs at American Express. Thank you everyone. To celebrate, here is a little video montage I made of one of the most magical afternoons of my life:

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