Our editor always likes us to write outside our box, penalty one in my case as – aside from football – what else do I know and what can I say that can interest our 1.5 million readers? However, on a week that saw Fulham relegated and lose the Youth Cup Final, I am prepared to go outside my zone and give my impressions on Brighton where I’m spending a few days.
Naturally I will start with what I know best: football. A 92 minute goal at Nottingham Forest got Brighton through the back door into the play-offs where they face Derby County. Manager Oscar Harcia has done well in his first season after Gus Poyet left. Rumour down here has it that chairman Tony Bloom, who masterminded the move to the impressive arena in Falmer, felt Poyet was taking too much of the limelight. He may have a point as success has continued without him in a team where only Matthew Upson is a household name. Their fans over the past 20 years have had a nomadic existence, so they deserve the splendid stadium in the fold of the downs. They have 24,000 season ticker holders and are the best supported side in the division.
Brighton is sporting city with cricket at Hove, at which the county side enjoyed success these past few years, and a horse racing course on the cliffs as well as a dog track. Goodwood and Hickstead are not far away, nor Eastbourne with tennis at Devonshire Park, and a powerful speedway team. The arts too flourish at the Brighton Royal Theatre and Glyndebourne. A long list of actors from Sir Laurence Olivier to Steve Coogan have made Brighton their home.
It’s a lively place with a gay community, middle class Hove, Regency architecture and the Royal Pavilion, and a green MP and council. It’s more of a conference and tourist place to work as there is no heavy industry and American Express is the biggest employer. The train service to London is less than a hour and, with many properties on offer for £200,000, many chose to commute rather than pay London prices for a rabbit hutch.
Yesterday I went for walk with a relative along the coastal walk to Rottingdean where we visited Kiping Gardens. The author rented a house there. We both found it so peaceful as we hardly passed a soul, did not hear a mobile, let alone be bumped into by someone texting and we were both impressed by a healthier, more wholesome, lifestyle.
I soon found myself forgetting our unhappiest season in nearly 20 years, which produced 3 promotions and an appearance in the Europa League final.