Brighton nearly there, Bong still fuming

Can Brighton and Hove Albion make it to the safety zone? Their recent football results have included a draw and a loss, so they are stuttering their way a bit to the safety of Premier League shore. While the fans really should have nothing to worry about, because while the team can still be mathematically caught, the bottom placed teams have done nothing to suggest they can turn around their own problems with form.

So the summary if you are a Seagulls fan – don’t fret. The teams below us are running out of games to catch us. It is like the end of a marathon, if you are running at the same pace as the person behind you, you are both runnning short of distance to the finishing line – which is good for you.

The only worry for Brighton is that their remaining four games are against Burnley, followed by the top three teams, in the order of Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool. Burnley at Turf Moor are a hard team to play against as their crowd gets well behind them. The Seagulls have to sneak for draws against United, who may be resting the first team for the FA Cup final, Manchester City, who may be coasting towards the Premier League title, and Liverpool, concerned with UEFA Cup glory.

A win against Burnley would really go a long way to calming Seagulls fans, instead of leaving things to chance against the big three.

Gaetan Bong’s allegation of racism against West Brom’s Jay Rodriguez was found not proven. Which is a little disappointing, to say the least.

I have nothing against Jay Rodriguez. I thought against Manchester United, he was outstanding in securing a 1-1 draw for his team. But maybe, as others say, the relegation period is the third transfer window; time for relegation bound players to display their wares, throw caution to the wind, to show what they can do. And Rodriguez was great in that game.

But when you pinch your nose, and waft it in front of a fellow professional, you are not exactly professional yourself, much less being a role model.

And everyone knows really why Rodriguez covered his mouth or pinched his nose. Managers do it all the time. In this age of lip-reading, leaving your lips for all to read is suicide.

So we could speculate that Rodriguez covered his mouth to say something racially abusive and then wafted his hands to add more insult to injury.

We see on video quite clearly Jay Rodriguez makes some gestures of some sort. So there is intent.

Let us remind ourselves that the charge made by Bong was not proven. In other words, if Gaetan Bong claimed the Baggies player said something racially abusive, the charge was not upheld only because the panel could not prove Rodriguez said racist words – only because his mouth was covered. But it does not mean that Rodriguez did not say something. What it means is what he said could not be proven.

Rodriguez could have said to Bong, “You farted and it smells.” Or “You should try using bodyspray.” The panel that found the charge “not proven” gave him the benefit of the doubt that was what he said. But he clearly said something that provoked.

So, not guilty, but not tasteful either.

Brighton captain re-signs; Seagulls draw

Brighton captain Bruno has signed a new one-year contract with the Premier League club until June 2019.

The 37-year-old right-back, who joined the Seagulls from Valencia in 2012, has made 21 league appearances this season.

“Bruno has been exemplary in my time as manager,” said Brighton boss Chris Hughton.

“Firstly, he has been an excellent right-back for the team, and secondly an excellent captain for the club over the past three seasons.”

The manager added: “The way he looks after himself on and off the pitch is an example to any player, and it is due to that lifestyle of professionalism that he is still playing at such a high level at this stage of his career.”

Brighton played Huddersfield last Saturday and were held to a 1-1 draw.

Huddersfield claimed a potentially crucial point in their battle against relegation as they drew with 10-man Brighton at the Amex Stadium in a game that saw both sides end their recent goal droughts.

The Seagulls and the Terriers are hoping to secure another season of top-flight football after they were promoted from the Championship last year and three points in this game would have gone a long way to making that a reality.

Brighton took the lead when the ball rebounded off Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl’s head after he had pushed Solly March’s shot onto the post.

Huddersfield responded almost immediately as Steve Mounie pounced on Shane Duffy’s terrible back pass to slot in.

The visitors’ hopes of snatching victory were then boosted when Brighton midfielder Davy Propper was sent off for a late challenge on Jonathan Hogg.

However, it was the hosts who could have taken the three points at the end when Jose Izquierdo was put through on goal – but the forward was superbly denied by Lossl.

The draw means Brighton are 13th, seven points above the relegation zone, while Huddersfield are 16th and four points above 18th-placed Southampton.

Neither of these sides have been the Premier League entertainers in recent weeks.

Brighton had gone a month without scoring while Huddersfield were approaching seven hours since their last goal.

It was, therefore, perhaps not surprising that their respective droughts were ended in somewhat fortuitous fashion.

Lossl can perhaps count himself unfortunate for Brighton’s opener as he pushed March’s shot onto the post and the ball rebounded back off his head and into the net.

Huddersfield had come back only once before this season to get a result after falling behind but they were on level terms just two minutes later.

Duffy inexplicably played the ball straight to Mounie and the Terriers’ top scorer kept his composure to round the keeper and slot in his ninth goal of the season.

Brighton are probably one win away from making sure of their Premier League status for another season and with tough games against Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool to come, this was arguably their most winnable fixture.

However, it would still take a big turnaround in form from the bottom three to see the Seagulls slip into trouble.

Any away point is an important one in the Premier League but this was the second time in their last four games Huddersfield had failed to take advantage of their opponents going down to 10 men by snatching victory.

But the Terriers have given themselves that extra bit of breathing space and this was a considerably improved performance after disappointing displays in defeats by Crystal Palace and Newcastle.

David Wagner’s side attacked with pace, created chances and finished with more shots on target – five – than they had in their previous two games combined, when they managed just two. That should give them hope ahead of upcoming home games against Watford and Everton.

Nearly there now …

This Saturday the Brighton and Hove Albion football team take on Leicester City at 3:00pm in a match, that for Albion, could go on towards solidifying their Premier League status.

The Seagulls are currently six points above Southampton, Leicester manager’s Claude Puel former team, who sacked him despite finishing respectably last season. The six point cushion equates to two games over a eight game period, which means that all the Seagulls have to do is match Southampton’s, or Stoke City’s record over the next six games to be able to safely celebrate.

Unfortunately at this stage it appears West Brom’s place in the lower divisions next year is already booked. With seven games left for them to play, the bottom-placed club need to win four of their next games and hope West Ham or Crystal Palace lose their next four, to even have a chance of sniffing survival. But bearing in mind what has happened to the club, with wages not being paid, club leaders behaving like idiots on a recent trip to Barcelona, the morale has already been drained from the club. Alan Pardew’s reputation as a saver may go down the drain.

Brighton are currently twelfth at the international break but there is good incentive to go for a good top ten result which would represent the south coast’s club’s best ever finish in the Premier League. It would be a long way away from the Southern League for the club started in 1901, and a further cry away from the team that nearly got relegated from the Championship in 2014-15 when they finished 20th.

Has it been a good January transfer window for Leonardo Ulloa? The Argentinian was the club’s best player in 2013-14, scoring sixteen goals en route to being the top scorer for the club, but then after winning the Premier League with Leicester City he was frozen out and unhappy. His return to the club continues to bode well.

Albion are slated for another season in the Premier League, but let’s not count our chickens for a few more weeks. And let’s hope they triumph this weekend, so we can all have a Happy Easter!

Manchester United in Albion sights

Can Brighton pull one off just like Sevilla? The Spanish conquerors arrived at Old Trafford last night and despite the uneviable record of never having won on English soil before, did just that, and of all places in the realm of Old Trafford, past European conquerors themselves. Remember Sheringham and Solsjkaer and company? The footage of them scoring injury time goals to win must surely have been repeated many times over, but now the ability to score late must be a distant memory of the past. Despite having Romelo Lukaku in the squad, Alexis Sanchez, and Paul Pogba, a total of nearly two hundred million invested in them, the Mancunians found it hard to break down the Spanish team of arguably less famous personnel. Well, perhaps until now.

So ahead of Brighton’s match at Old Trafford in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, the Seagulls must be fancying their chances. The Seagulls have won their last few games, including strong opposition like Arsenal. They have fought off their relegation worries and are can play confidently without the fear of not being in the Premier League next season. More importantly, they have gone to big places like the Emirates and won, and played credibly in games that perhaps they were unlucky to lose. So despite the fact that Sunday’s game is away, they must be thinking they could pull one off.

The Manchester squad appears to be infighting at the moment. Alexis Sanchez’s arrival at Old Trafford has seemingly soured relations with his team mates, with Paul Pogba questioning his own lack of influence on his team’s game. Pogba’s assists and minutes have gone down since the arrival of the Chilean, and Jose Mourinho appears to be finding problems to include both in his team. He must find a way to integrate both into the squad, or it would seem like he has traded Mkhitaryan and Pogba for Sanchez. And has the curse of Alexis Sanchez hit Mancunian shores? He seemed to sour relations between his team mates when he was at Arsenal, maybe the same is happening with Manchester United.

United’s problems, Brighton’s advantage. The Seagulls are on a winning run, and United, fresh off a win at Liverpool before being bundled out by Sevilla last night, must regroup fast (but hopefully not too fast). If Albion progress, they will most likely face Tottenham who are favourites against Swansea. But let’s take it one step at a time first.

Seagulls into the next round

Are things on the up for the Brighton football club? The Seagulls scored a 3-1 win over Coventry in the FA Cup to progress to the quarter finals. The progress to that stage is the club’s first since the 1980s – 1986, to be exact.

And what a dream debut for Jurgen Locadia. The record signing from PSV Eindhoven joined in January and made a dream appearance, scoring just inside a quarter of an hour to edge his club in front. Brighton’s dominance was never really much in doubt with Connor Goldson scoring with a header twenty minutes later to put the Seagulls further in front. And went old boy Leonardo Ulloa, on loan from Leicester scored in the 61st minute, the fans by this time realised they were on the verge of a quarter-final trip. The consolation goal by Coventry did not dent the joy at reaching the last eight, although it must have been a bit of a downer for Netherlands and former Newcastle stopper Tim Krul not to have kept a clean sheet.

Locadia had several chances to add to his debut and had he been able to convert them he would have had an even greater debut with a hat-trick. But the forward is only just recovering from a hamstring injury which delayed his debut, and his combination with Solly March and Anthony Knockaert is promising for Albion.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton was delighted with the performance and felt the team carried themselves well even though Coventry were in the lower leagues. He had reason to be pleased with the performance of March, who looked like a threat whenever he received the ball. March was voted man of the match and his performance and tireless running created chances for his teammates.

The result is a good one for the Seagulls before they meet relegation-threatened Swansea on Saturday, followed by Arsenal the week after. If they build on the positive performance and a run of good results, they might view the weeks leading to the close of the season more positively.

Learning about learning

How do you feel when you have to learn something new? Do you feel a sense of excitement, or do you encounter an initial sense of negativity that stays with you for a long time?

For many people, especially those of the younger generation, learning a new skill comes with a sense of aspiration and idealism. They see the skill and what it can offer to their lives, not just in terms of the skill and direct benefits itself, but also for the fame and recognition. For example, someone wishing to take up singing has ideas of being able to make it big as a singer-songwriter, and being the object of attention of millions in a big arena.

The unfortunate thing with learning a skill – if you can call it unfortunate at all – is that it takes time to do well. Skills take time to be familiar with, to acquire, and to refine, so that every action benefits. A lot of people go for the product and not the process, because they want to end-gain, to get to the final product immediately, because they are hungry for the success. This means they short-cut their way to the end, without any idea of how they’ve achieved it.

You see this in young children. When they are asked to do a piece of writing, for example, and are not willing to do it, they fill a piece of paper with words – perhaps written not very nicely, as a form of protest – and will insist they have completed it, when the paper is full of words, without any form of whether what they have written is of substance and neat. They have gone for the product, in order to complete it, rather than think of the process.

Perhaps it is a good idea to learn little craft skills to subconsciously learn the life skills of patience and practice. Rather than discover – when the stakes are too high – that one has chosen to do something ambitious without having the will or aptitude for it, it may be prudent to do little artistic skills, slightly less ambitious tasks in order to develop the patience and willingness to graft, and develop a mental framework of what it takes to learn a skill. If you’re ever on the Brighton seafront, you will find a myriad of ideas just looking at the craft shops around you. Try candle-making, or perhaps making your own shampoo. Try learning to play the guitar with a few chords. Try knitting, or join a weekend cookery class. There are many things you can try. Not only will you make many friends and meet like-minded people, at the same time you will learn about learning – it is a skill that will benefit you for life!

Shelter Hall overruns

In light of the collapse of nationwide contract Carillon, it is prudent to examine how the costs of construction can overrun to the point where they cost more than forecasted.

Why is it that in the construction world, everything seems to cost more and take longer? Building contractors have had years of experience at cost estimation, yet the oft-quoted excuse is the lack of supply or staff, or some other excuse which presumably could not have been anticipated. You would think that with many years of experience in the construction industry, companies could at least factor this costs in foresight so that the cost quoted at the start is accurate over the course of projects.

All this highlights a problem within the construction industry. The quotations offered to councillors who approve such projects are deliberately low to secure approval, yet once approval has been obtained they balloon to their true size, or even an estimate, which cannot be gone back on because the contracts have been signed, or the structure is already have in place. But could you imagine if you ordered spaghetti from a restaurant, that you would have to wait longer for your food, and on top of that the restaurant tells you that the spaghetti is in shortage and therefore you would have to pay more and wait longer for the same bowl? Why do we accept this in construction?

The work to rebuild Shelter Hall in West Street is now forecast to cost twice as much and twice as long. Shouldn’t it be the case that contractors who don’t adhere to their own estimates of time and cost should bear the brunt of the extra cost themselves? The problem is that after subsidies to cover the extra rising costs from the original cost of ten million pounds, there is still a two million pound shortfall to fund the project that must come from the city coffers, or Brighton residents will end up with a half-finished mound of eyesore.

It is almost as if we build projects with the expectation that they will overrun, and we sign them off with blank cheques of money and time. We need a revamp on the construction system; contractors need to provide final cost estimates and timeframes when submitting for tender, and any shortfall should be met by them, as it impacts on the town’s infrastructure. We cannot have projects overrunning, doubling in cost, with the extra monies going to line the pockets of directors. It is a sad unethical abuse of the system.

Brighton fills up Stoke stadium

Could it be the magic of Brighton rubbing off on their northern neighbours? Stoke City’s next home match against Albion could be their biggest home match this season. Albion have already sold out of their 3200-ticket allocation, so the Potters had better beware of some good visiting support!

Albion currently sit three points above Stoke and new manager Paul Lambert in the table. A few weeks ago, a six point gap was all that separated the eleventh-placed team and the bottom, but with the developments of the recent weeks, that six-point gap is now limited to the fifteenth-placed team. What does that important stat mean? It puts more pressure for teams to win, because now not even six points are enough if you want to sleep easy. Those teams above the relegation zone can afford to plod on for draws, and hope to marginalise their goal difference, but those teams at the bottom really have to make a difference, an attempt to win, in Oder to lift themselves out. Perhaps when they have traded places with a team in fifteenth place or lower, they can afford to play for draws.

A gap of six points DOES separate the eleventh-placed and the nineteenth-placed team, though – meaning Stoke, on eighteenth, could in theory vault themselves to safety with two wins, while Albion may slide uncomfortably towards the relegation zone. It is not a situation Brighton would want!

How will Chris Hughton set up the Brighton team? It is likely they will set up with a defensive line up knowing that the Potters will want to attack, and then try to burn them out of energy over the course of the game – and then hope to win it in the final stages. And as for Stoke, they will probably line up against Brighton in an attacking formation. Maybe Peter Crouch will start? Watch for the Brighton midfield to try to nullify Xherdan Shaqiri, as many of Stoke’s opponents have done – they realise he drives most of the Stoke offensive.

Brighton and Stoke promises to bring in more changes and twists to the relegation tale. Watch the match this weekend; it’s not one to miss! Can Brighton pull away further to safety?

Return to the Seaside

If you like football, you may be heartened at the fact that Leicester City striker Leonardo Ulloa has rejoined Brighton on loan until the end of the season.

The striker was formerly a Brighton player prior to leaving for Leicester and is still popular among the fans here. Three and a half years ago he played for the club before signing for the Foxes, and his return provides the club with a good physical striker, with plenty of Premier League experience, and more importantly, gives him a chance to play.

At Leicester, Ulloa played a huge part in the run to being Premier League champions. Remember the penalty he took, with Vardy and Mahrez off and Leicester trailing? He showed no sign of nerves and buried the penalty. Having the striker makes the Brighton frontline a lot stronger and gives manager Chris Hughton more alternatives. Ulloa was ofter behind the pecking order with Jamie Vardy, Riyadh Mahrez, Islam Slimani in front of him, but with the move he can expect a lot more football – and Brighton have a strong weapon in the fight to stay up!

Boundary markers of Brighton

The boundary of the ancient ecclesiastical and civil parish of Brighton, which was also the area incorporated as a borough on April 1 1854, followed the boundary with Hove, from the sea-front via Little Western St and Boundary Passage to Goldsmid Rd, until the two areas were combined in 1997. It then went directly to the junctions of Russell Crescent and Dyke Rd, and Prestonville Rd and Old Shoreham Rd, to follow the line of Old Shoreham Rd, New England Rd, Viaduct Rd, Ditchling Rd, Florence Place, Hollingdean Rd and Bear Rd to the Race Hill reservoir. The boundary line then ran south across the race-course to follow generally the course of Whitehawk Rd (before realignment, now including Haybourne Rd) to Roedean Rd, and finally along the eastern side of Boundary Rd to the sea. This area amounted to approximately 1,640 acres, although reclaimed beaches added to the total over the years.

The Brighton borough boundary has been extended on several occasions in order to accommodate development outside the original area. The alterations have been:

October 31 1873: (1873 Brighton Borough Extension Act): That part of Preston parish to the east of Dyke Rd, an area of about 905 acres, was added to the borough for municipal purposes only; the boundaries remained unaltered for parochial purposes until 1894, when that part of Preston parish outside the borough, i.e to the west of Dyke Rd, was constituted as the parish of Preston Rural; and that part within the borough was constituted as the new parish of Preston. Preston remained a separate parish within the county borough of Brighton until 1928 (see below).

October 1 1923: (1923 Ministry of Housing Provisional Order Confirmation (Brighton Extension) Act): That part of Patcham parish to the east of Lewes Rd, an area of 94 acres already developed by the corporation as the original Moulsecoomb housing estate, was added to the county borough of Brighton and to the parish of Preston.

April 1 1928: (1927 Brighton Corporation Act): The whole of the parishes of Ovingdean and Rottingdean, a large part of Falmer parish (including the rest of the Moulsecoomb estate, the Falmer School area and Bevendean), and those parts of Patcham and West Blatchington parishes to the east of Dyke Rd Avenue and Devil’s Dyke Rd, were added to the county borough. In addition, a small exchange of land was made with Hove to the north of Seven Dials to simplify the boundary; the new line ran along Goldsmid Rd and Dyke Rd, such that Goldsmid Rd and parts of Addison, Davigdor, Julian and Melville Rds were transferred to Hove, while Belmont and parts of Dyke Rd and Old Shoreham Rd were added to Brighton. This enormous expansion created what was popularly known as ‘Greater Brighton’, with the area of the county borough, which was also constituted as a single parish of Brighton (thus also absorbing Preston parish), increasing nearly five-fold to 12,503 acres. A week-long celebration culminated in the unveiling of the Pylons by the Duke and Duchess of York to mark the new northern boundary of the town.

April 1 1952: (1951 Brighton Extension Act): Substantial areas of Falmer and Stanmer parishes, including Old Boat Corner, Stanmer Park, Stanmer village, Coldean and the downland to the west of Falmer Rd, were added to the county borough and parish of Brighton to bring the total area up to 14,347 acres. Those parts of Falmer and Stanmer not annexed combined to form the present parish of Falmer.

March 31 1972: (1968 Brighton Marina Act): Land reclaimed for the Marina development, plus a substantial area of sea defined by national grid references, was added to the parish and county borough. The added area was about 694 acres, making the total borough area 15,041 acres.

April 1 1993: (The East Sussex, West Sussex and Kent (County Boundaries) Order 1992): A 40ha area of downland at Donkey Bottom, including Mid-Down House and Alpha and Beta Cottages, was transferred from Pyecombe parish to the Borough of Brighton.

April 1 1997: (The East Sussex (Boroughs of Brighton and Hove) (Structural Change) Order 1995): Combined the Boroughs of Brighton and Hove into one ‘unitary’ area –a district and a county for local government purposes, an area of 33.80 square miles. However, for ceremonial purposes, Brighton & Hove remains part of East Sussex under the 1997 Lieutenancies Act.

There are not many places where the Brighton boundary is obvious to the observer. Among those most easily seen are:

Brighton/Hove: in the Western Rd pavement at Boundary Passage; at the mid-point and northern end of Boundary Passage; the southern side of Temple Gardens; either side of Windlesham Avenue; and at Dyke Rd/Old Shoreham Rd.

This last stone marked the former Hove/Preston boundary to 1928 and, although the present borough boundary does not run along the same line, it is mered to the stone.)

Brighton/Preston (to 1928): in the north-eastern pier of the New England Viaduct.

Brighton/Stanmer (1928-52): at Highfields, Coldean.

Brighton/Falmer/Preston/Ovingdean (to 1928): at the south-eastern corner of the Race Hill Reservoir in Bear Rd.

Brighton/Ovingdean (to 1928): two between the Race Hill Reservoir and Haybourne Rd, and two on the western side of Haybourne Rd, where there are also a number of Race Ground boundary stones; on the eastern side of Whitehawk Rd at Roedean Rd.

Brighton/Telscombe (from 1928): either side of Marine Drive to the east of Longridge Avenue, Saltdean.