Try telling a Brighton fan that there is no magic in the FA Cup as the city is agog at the prospect with the visit of the mighty Gunners. Outside the Seagulls, Chelsea and Arsenal are the two most supported clubs here so some Gunners will not have far to travel.
Every month or so I have lunch with my neighbour at the Amex and his wife. Yesterday it was my turn to host at the Ginger Pig at Hove. One thing I have learned from Daphne is that an enjoyable restaurant experience is not just based on the food – ambience, service, price, location, decor and greetings are important too. I arrived half a hour early as I completed my business quickly in town. The waitress could not have been more helpful. I settled down with a large gin and tonic in anticipation of my guests.
We did not waste much time talking about our Xmases as the Arsenal tie was first on the agenda. Two years ago we played Arsenal and lost narrowly 3-2 to a Walcott goal. Since then we have lost many of the players as well as manager Gus Poyet and the side we field will not be as strong. However Chris Hughton ‘s Spurs background and experience will ensure we give the Gunners a game and the Amex will be rocking. I can’t wait.
For those of us who do not support a Premier club the FA Cup is a welcoming diversion from all the attention the Premier gets. Our values are different as we do not believe we have a divine right to success, as many Arsenal fans do, but accept that ups and downs – quite literally in terms of promotion and relegation – are part and parcel of supporting Brighton. We have been to Wembley in 1983 and we have been forced to watch our home games at Gillingham 15 years later. I look on bemused that Arsenal fans I know are so unhappy and vocal in otheir criticism of Arsene Wenger when they have had 20’years of success with him.
Another thing I enjoy is the connection between the city and the fans. Tony Bloom’s father Harry was Vice Chairman in the glory years. My neighbour’s warm-hearted and jovial wife said that she knew Jimmy Melia, who managed the Cup Final side, and their first date was a Brighton match. She even said their two boys, twins – one supports Arsenal, the other Brighto n- were conceived after the Cup Final. “And Ian must score” I joked after the famous commentary when Gordon Smith missed. At least it was not a hat-trick he replied.
A group of Arsenal friends are coming down and we will have a jolly lunch, probably at the Marina as it’s not far from the Amex. Brighton’s song is Sussex by the Sea. Director Norman Wisdom added the words “We are all going up to win the Cup”- a reference to a Cup victory over Aston Villa.
in 1910 . This time we are staying in Brighton. Bring on the Arsenal!