Monday, September 26, 2011
Seagulls v Eagles and lucky managers
Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.
Seagulls v Eagles
The big games keep coming for Brighton & Hove Albion. Having taken on Liverpool and Leeds in the space of three heady days at the Amex Stadium, Gus Poyet's team will welcome, in the loosest possible sense, arch-enemies Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, in what is one of the more intriguing rivalries in English football.
Most accounts suggest Brighton-Palace hostilities heated up in the 1970s, with respective managers Alan Mullery and Terry Venables none too taken with each other, and the rise of hooliganism playing its part too.
Mullery went down in Brighton legend when he took out five pound notes and threw them into a puddle during an FA Cup replay between the teams at Stamford Bridge in the late 1970s. "You're not worth that, Palace," is what he apparently said, before sticking his fingers up at their fans and being led away by police. He may have regretted that moment when he swapped sides to become Palace manager in 1982.
Brighton's nickname is said to have been coined in response to Palace fans chanting "Eagles, Eagles" in a pub before a game. Brighton briefly called themselves "The Dolphins" in the mid-70s before "Seagulls" was delivered as an answer to Palace fans. It has stuck with them ever since.
With Brighton riding high and Palace smarting from a defeat to bottom club Doncaster, it's the Seagulls who are expected to win out this time. But Palace will be relishing the opportunity to silence the home fans at Brighton's shiny new stadium and start a new era of the rivalry with an upset.
You've got the luck
Sean O'Driscoll must have allowed himself a wry smile as he watched highlights of Doncaster's 1-0 victory against Palace on Saturday night.
Driscoll was put on 'gardening leave' by the club after a poor start to the season had left them bottom of the Championship and without a win in 19 games. How he could have used the luck enjoyed by new manager Dean Saunders.
Saunders saw his team win 1-0 thanks to a wild deflection against Palace - and profit from a first goal in 18 months from John Oster.
The BBC Sport reporter who called it "a stunning 30-yard strike" clearly hadn't seen it. "Oster took possession and burst into the Palace half before firing an unstoppable shot into the bottom left-hand corner," the report continued.
Now that's the kind of positive spin a manager needs to survive a relegation battle.
This week's 'telling it like it is' award goes to Huddersfield manager Lee Clark, who was none too pleased with Jamie McCombe after his straight red card against Leyton Orient. The League One clash finished 0-0, and with Clark fuming at the man he said cost his team all three points.
"One player has let us down massively through an act of indiscipline, so he will be fined the maximum that we can fine him and I would probably say that he will find it very difficult to get back into the team," Clark said
"All I can say is that he threw the lad over, which he cannot do. You cannot raise your hands in football. Rugby was last night and today is football - it has cost us two points."
Stand up for the football fans
There were heart-warming scenes in the West Country on Saturday as hundreds of fans of other teams lent their support to financially-troubled Plymouth, joining together for a rousing chant of "stand up for the football fans" towards the end of the match.
Representatives from Brighton, Reading, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Bradford were among those who swelled the home crowd to just over 6,000, and watched on as Plymouth recorded their first win of the season.
They were there to give their solidarity to a team who went into administration in March, and who sacked manager Peter Reid last week after taking just one point from their opening nine games. But with caretaker manager Carl Fletcher off to a winning start and a takeover by local businessman James Brent on the horizon, hope is gradually returning to the club currently propping up the Football League.
Alcock living the (slightly smaller) dream
Craig Alcock has admitted he let himself get carried away when he got a call from his agent over the summer. "Ferguson wants you at United," he was told, and for a moment the defender envisaged Champions League meetings with Barcelona and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave Yeovil for the Theatre of Dreams.
As it turns out the Ferguson in question was Sir Alex's son Darren. And the team in question was the United of Peterborough and not Manchester.
"It wasn't quite the Fergie and the United that first ran through my mind but it's still been a big move and I'm rising to the challenge," Alcock said.