Brighton

2013–14 Football League Championship Fans’ Preview (Part 1)

With little time left before the clubs of the 2nd tier return to their hallowed turf. The fans of all 24 clubs have a chance to voice their dreams, opinions and concerns for the 10-month battle that lies ahead.

Barnsley
@MattBFC93

Home… No club has spent more time in the 2nd tier than the Tykes.

Home ground: Oakwell (Capacity: 23,009)
Nickname: The Tykes
Rivals: Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Leeds United, Doncaster Rovers
Last season: 21st
Odds: 125/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Continue from the second half of last season so that we don’t have to endure another season in a relegation battle.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Fans get overexcited about the second half of last season, the team don’t perform as we’re all hoping and we are relegated.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We conceded a lot of goals from set pieces, and we are yet to address that. 1 or 2 centre halves are needed.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Sheffield Wednesday, especially after losing twice to them last season.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
New signing from Bayern Munich, Dale Jennings. Could be a huge player for us this season after learning from the likes of Arjen Ribben, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller. Could also be a big season for Jacob Mellis after his first full season last year, and goals are expected from O’Grady after his loan move was made permanent.

6. Who will win the league?
Sneaky suspicion Reading could do well. Most of team kept together, adding to it with Wayne Bridge and Royston Drenthe. All that along with a top manager in Nigel Adkins.

7. Who will go down?
Doncaster, Yeovil and Huddersfield.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
 Hopefully ourselves. If not, maybe Charlton.

9. Where will you finish?
11th.

Birmingham City
@_RMurray

Money talks… Brum fans fear for their finances.

Home ground: St. Andrew’s (Capacity: 31,079)
Nickname: The Blues
Rivals: Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion
Last season: 12th
Odds: 28/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
 To get taken over.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
To go into administration.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
If Curtis goes, the back four.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Ipswich, Forest, and maybe Leicester.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Nathan Redmond, and Marlon King.

6. Who will win the league?
Bolton or QPR.

7. Who will go down?
Huddersfield, Sheffield Wed, Yeovil.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Charlton.

9. Where will you finish?
13th.

Blackburn Rovers
@CarlyBrownn

Home ground: Ewood Park (Capacity: 31,154)

Rebound… Rovers fans are hoping for improvement.

Nickname: Rovers
Rivals: Burnley, Bolton Wanderers
Last season: 17th
Odds: 20/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Promotion.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Having a repeat of last season, where there is no stability..and not getting near play-offs.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Generally midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Burnley, of course.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Jordan Rhodes?

6. Who will win the league?
Reading.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Barnsley and Bournemouth.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Er, Sheff Wednesday?

9. Where will you finish?
7th, proper optimism there.

Blackpool
@RobC1887

Wobbly… The Seasiders are fearing the drop once more.

Home ground: Bloomfield Road (Capacity: 17,338)
Nickname: The Seasiders
Rivals: Preston North End, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers
Last season: 15th
Odds: 40/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To avoid relegation, this summer has been very worrying.
Greatest hope is a top half finish, somehow.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation, obviously.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need to strenghten our midfield and attacking options. Ince, Phillips
and probably Gary Taylor-Fletcher going leaves us with pretty much nothing.
Plus we only have Basham and Fergy still in midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Bolton. Our last two games against them were brilliant too.
Preston in the cup would be a nice win. Also Burnley and Blackburn.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
I’ll be boring and say Matty Phillips, his development has slowed a bit though.
Bob Harris or Basham might stand out too.

6. Who will win the league?
Not a clue. Bolton have impressed me a bit in the transfer window.
Watford won’t come anywhere near, new rules have cornered them.
QPR won’t be as good as people are expecting, unless Redknapp
clashes a few heads together.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, maybe Birmingham, maybe Wednesday, maybe Huddersfield,
Forest, us, Barnsley… Not Doncaster though.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Doncaster, and maybe Yeovil might surprise a few. Doncaster are a good team.

9. Where will you finish?
We’ll finish between 12th and 24th… I’m gonna sit on the fence, sorry.

Bolton Wanderers
@FansBolton

Confident… Bolton fans are optimistic for the season ahead

Home ground: Reebok Stadium (Capacity: 28,100)
Nickname: The Trotters
Rivals: Bury, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Manchester United
Last season: 7th
Odds: 11/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To go up.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
That we lose Holden.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
A new striker.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Wigan or QPR.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Holden.

6. Who will win the league?
Bolton.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Huddersfield, Reading.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Forest.

9. Where will you finish?
2nd.

Bournemouth
@Eloiseee_Gullis

Dark horses… Fans are weary of new boys, Bompey.

Home ground: Dean Court (Capacity: 10,700)
Nickname: The Cherries
Rivals: Southampton, Reading
Last season: 2nd (League One)
Odds: 20/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Realistically the first goal is to stay up, anything better than
that would be fantastic.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Personally Max Demin leaving and us being in financial
trouble.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Probably midfield, as we have skill but lack strength
and experience.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Leeds.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
I’d say Matt Ritchie and Brett Pitman.

6. Who will win the league?
I think potentially Forest.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Millwall and Burnley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Us!

9. Where will you finish?
Mid-table I reckon if we start off well.

Brighton & Hove Albion


@LiamHollister

Lone seagull… Albion fans will miss their rivalry with Palace.

Home ground: AMEX Stadium (Capacity: 30,750)
Nickname: The Seagulls
Rivals: Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, Southampton
Last season: 4th
Odds: 14/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Promotion. If we get a decent manager (Oscar Garcia) it’s
very possible.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Not sorting the manager situation out soon enough costing us.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Well at the moment we don’t have a left back so we’ll need one of those!
A centre back or two would also be nice.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Now palace are up, we don’t have any rivalries. I don’t like Leeds
or Burnley, so them.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Leo Ulloa, Will Buckley, Andrea Orlandi, Liam Bridcutt if he stays, Kuszczak and
Spanish dave (David lopez) if he signs his new contract.

6. Who will win the league?
I think Reading. They’re really going for it with their signings.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Blackpool and probably Barnsley. I can even see it happening
to QPR, like it did with Wolves.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Charlton and Ipswich. Charlton are in pretty much the same position as we
were last season, it turned out well for us. Mick McCarthy has turned Ipswich around.

9. Where will you finish?
 It’s hard to predict without knowing who the manager is and whether key
players re-sign or leave. If we have Oscar, I’ll say 3rd.

Burnley
@Gav_BFC

Grudge… The Clarets are desperate to beat Blackburn.

Home ground: Turf Moor (Capacity: 22,546)
Nickname: The Clarets
Rivals: Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, Blackpool
Last season: 11th
Odds: 66/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Beating Blackburn Rovers for the first time in 35 years or reaching a play-off place.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Being dragged into a relegation dogfight.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
All over the place, only have 3 strikers as of yet, Charlie Austin wanted by
several Premier League clubs, Danny Ings wanted by old boss Eddie Howe at Bournemouth
and Martin Paterson, contract is near end and there’s been rumours
he’s not signing a new one.

Midfield – we lack a player with creativity, we have some good wingers in
Ross Wallace and Junior Stanislas but no one in the middle that can pass a ball.
Defence – Conceded one of the most goals last season, need a real leader to help our young lads at the back.
Goalkeeper – Lost our number one Lee Grant to Derby County, our number two Brian Jensen,
whose decided not to stay at the club after 10years and our 3rd choice Stewart, who we never
really saw much of. Was on loan at Alfreton Town, also released. However we’ve signed Tom
Heaton from Bristol City and Cisek from Oldham.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Blackburn Rovers, haven’t beaten them in near 35 years, surely this season is our time?

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Cameron Howieson, teenager, yet to be given a real chance with the first team.
Looked very impressive for the Reserves and the Development squad. Also Danny Ings,
I can see him taking over Charlie Austin’s footsteps and bagging 15-20 goals this season.

6. Who will win the league?
Wigan Athletic if they keep hold of some of their players, got some real gems in
that team and they love to pass it around.

7. Who will go down?
My three that I predict to go down are; Yeovil Town to finish at the bottom,
Doncaster Rovers next up and then Barnsley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Bournemouth; Eddie Howe has again done wonders at this club for the second time in
his managerial career. I can’t see them getting a play-off place but they’ll be mid table,
considering they were in League Two fighting to stay up not long ago.

9. Where will you finish?
With a manager who loves playing hoof ball football and rumours of us signing Kevin Davies.
No higher than 17th.

Charlton Athletic


@KyleAndrewsCAFC

Tempered… Kyle Andrews isn’t sure what to make of Charlton’s ‘dark horse’ label.

Home ground: The Valley (Capacity: 27,111)
Nickname: The Addicks
Rivals: Crystal Palace, Millwall, West Ham United
Last season: 9th
Odds: 40/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Chris Powell or one of the board members get lucky
and win the Euromillions, the money is invested into
the playing budget and we’re able to compete financially
with some of the bigger teams in the league allowing us to
add strength in depth to the squad and a 20 goal a season
striker. On an equal financial playing field and with a
talented squad, Powell works his magic and leads his
side to the title.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
We’re forced to sell our best players and don’t replace them,
Powell gets frustrated with the lack of financial support and leaves,
we return to League One.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
With only one senior striker at the club at the time of writing, it has to be
up front. It looks as if Jonathan Obika will join, but he isn’t going to be a
20 goal a season striker.  A pacey striker with excellent finishing to
compliment the hard work of Yann Kermorgant would be a dream.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
After the embarrassment of losing at home 2-0 to Millwall last season,
six points against our South East London rivals would be welcomed.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
It’s only a matter of time before Chris Solly is playing in the Premier League,
whether that’s in a Charlton shirt or not. The academy product consistently
performs to a high standard and rarely, if at all, puts a foot wrong. Youngster
Callum Harriott showed promise towards the end of the season, whilst Yann
Kermorgant will continue to terrorise defences.

6. Who will win the league?
As things stand, I can’t look beyond Reading. The signing of Royston Drenthe
has signalled their intentions and Nigel Adkins, an excellent manager in his
own right, has a fantastic squad at his disposal. I also expect Nottingham
Forest, Leicester City and, if they get their house in order, QPR to be up there.

7. Who will go down?
The Championship will be a step to far for Yeovil, who will struggle alongside
a host of mediocre Championship clubs. I predict Huddersfield and Barnsley
to drop down to League One after just surviving last season. 

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
As much as I’d like to say Charlton, I just can’t see it, so I’ll opt for Bournemouth.
Any team with Eddie Howe in charge will be an impressive one.

9. Where will you finish?
Heart says 6th, head says low mid table. Powell’s work in the transfer window will be crucial.

 

Derby County
@RBooth9

Optimism… The Rams are ready to charge for the top 6.

Home ground: Pride Park (Capacity: 33,597)
Nickname: The Rams
Rivals: Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Leeds United
Last season: 10th
Odds: 33/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
As any football fan will say at the start of the season, I’m hoping for a
promotion push! All signs from around the club are positive and that we’re
set for a big season! So hopefully this will be out year.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that the long term plan goes pear shape
and we settle for mid table mediocrity again,
or worse get relegated. I personally think if we struggle this year,
the fans will turn against Nigel and the board.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Our Defence. Richard Keogh has been a rock at centre back and Jake Buxton has
also been good cover. Shaun Barker will hopefully return this season but it’ll take
him a while to regain his fitness. So a new Centre back would be a good addition.
But our main concern is finding a left back. Gareth Roberts has left and a deal for
Craig Forsyth from Watford has apparently fell through. A new left back is a must!

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
The obvious one is Forest! We’re unbeaten in the last 4 against them so hopefully
the run continues. There’s no better feeling than beating them, especially at the City
Ground. Another game we always look forward to is the games against Leeds!
Always a great atmosphere when we play them and we’ve enjoyed a lot of success
in this fixture. 9 wins in row I think the record is.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Johnny Russell: signed from Dundee Utd this summer and he’s coming with
quite a good reputation. 20 goals in 38 games in any league is a great record!
Hopefully he’ll be the striker that we’ve desperately needed over recent years.
The second player is Will Hughes. Already got a huge reputation and has fully
deserved it. Brilliant talent, plays with such maturity for someone so young.
Another youth player coming through from the academy is Mason Bennett made his
first team debut aged 15 and impressed so far, hopefully gets a few more starts
this season.

6. Who will win the league?
If the off field dramas at QPR don’t take over, I can see them winning the league
or being a strong force.

7. Who will go down?
I’d like to see Yeovil stay up but I think they’re going to struggle. Doncaster, Millwall and Barnsley I
think will also be down the bottom come the end of the season.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I think Bournemouth will be the surprise package of the season. Eddie Howe seems to
work wonders down there.

9. Where will you finish?
I’ve got a feeling about this season so hopefully we’ll get in the play-offs . I’m
going with an optimistic 5th.

Doncaster Rovers
@SuperRyanDunphy

Return… Donny are back and here to stay.

Home ground: Keepmoat Stadium (Capacity: 15,231)
Nickname: Donny
Rivals: Leeds United, Barnsley
Last season: 1st (League One)
Odds: 150/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Greatest hope will be to push past 12th, but lets face it, its probably
unlikely, but this club always dreams!

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We have 9 players at the moment… So everywhere! However we do
not have a goalkeeper, so that has to be it.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Brighton. Fans of DRFC and in particular our chairman have hated this
club since Lewis Dunks horror challenge on Billy sharp practically relegated
us last time in the Championship.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Rob Jones, no need to look you cant miss him. 6ft 7 ageing yet quality,
it takes something special to get past him.

6. Who will win the league?
Reading, comfortably.

7. Who will go down?
Millwall, Yeovil, Burnley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
We may just surprise a few…. However I think Derby will finally pull away
from mid-table and get a play-off spot.

9. Where will you finish?
14th.

Huddersfield Town

@JRTerrier24

Recovery… The Terriers are confident of changing their fortunes.

Home ground: John Smith’s Stadium (Capacity: 24,500)
Nickname: The Terriers
Rivals: Leeds United, Bradford City
Last season: 19th
Odds: 100/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
I think with the right signings, a play-off spot isn’t out of
the question, and following the last 2 days, it’s looking more
promising.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
A sort of Peterborough-esque second season where
we just fall apart and get relegated, and knowing Town as I do,
it’s definitely not impossible.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Definitely strikers, though the acquisitions of Stead and Paterson have been very
welcome, every Town fan wants James Vaughan to return.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Like with every season that we’re in the same division, Leeds is the big one, although
after our drubbings last season, Leicester too.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Jack Hunt is always being touted for his great crossing ability, but if he regains his form,
Oliver Norwood too, especially his free kicks.

6. Who will win the league?
Hard to say. I will say probably either Forest, Leicester or Reading, and if they
get a decent replacement for Poyet, Brighton.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil and Doncaster definitely, the third one will be interesting, but I’m going to
say either Millwall or Barnsley. (Would prefer Leeds though)

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I see Bournemouth doing well under Eddie Howe, maybe play-offs, and also
Derby County if they can string a good run or two together.

9. Where will you finish?
I would like to say lower top half, but every Town fan would say “As long as it’s
not bottom 3”. Play-off spot would be added bonus.

Advertisements

Banter or Bile? : The Ugly Face of Homophobia in Football

In recent weeks, both Brighton & Hove Albion and now retired-footballer, Robbie Rogers have sparked up debates over the existence of homophobia in football. For decades, campaigners have tried to kick racism and sexism out of the game with noticeable progress but still in 2013, no openly gay footballers in England exist. Begging the question; are the exchanges between the terraces harmless banter or malevolent bigotry?

Targeted… Football fans from the UK’s gay capital have complained to the FA.

Football is a game synonymous with hearty yet edgy banter. Fans are renowned for their sharp passion filled exchanges in the stands with barely anything off limits. Racism, sexism and homophobia are the three main targets for discrimination that organisations such as Kick It Out and The Justin Campaign have sought to eliminate, but to little avail. Since the 1970s and 1980s when football hooliganism and discriminative chanting were at their peaks, only racist chanting has come close to disappearing from the English banter arsenal. Homophobia and sexism has remained rife in the stands. Sian Massey has made huge strides towards gender equality in the sport but an openly gay active player has yet to the same for LGBT equality.

Pioneer… Robbie Rogers is only English football’s 2nd openly gay player

The reason for this imbalance in success, is that racism has been combatted with rigorous campaigning both on and off the pitch. Whereas, the issue of homophobia, which too is discrimination for an innate disposition, is targeted less. Kick It Out should rightly be commended for their work against racism in football but when it comes to tackling homophobia, you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that they’ve tried a little less. With this video campaign (below) coming under fire for almost promoting homophobia by treating the issue in a mocking fashion.

It’s a well-known fact that there are currently no openly gay professional footballers. Justin Fashanu was the first footballer in England to come out as gay.  After coming out in 1990, that’s just 23 years ago, many of his former team-mates spoke out in anger against him, stating that gays had no place in team sports. Legendary manager, Brian Clough also labelled him a ‘bloody poof’, a statement he revealed he later regretted. But due to the horrific torment he received, Fashanu took his own life. Following Fashanu’s suicide in 1998, it would take some 15 years for the next player to out themselves. US international, Robbie Rogers came out in a blog post in February 2013 and although the overall reaction of fans was generally positive, he felt he had to retire from the game as a result. Begging the question, has any progress been made at all?

‘Role model’… Brian Clough publicly vented homophobic views

Brighton’s FA report this month condemns fans of nearly every Championship club,9* for homophobic chants from “We can see you holding hands” to “You’re from a town, full of gays. We hope you all die of AIDs”. A sizeable portion of gay football fans would dismiss a lot of these chants as banter but on occasions, the line is crossed. Initially the seriousness  of the issue, highlighted by this report, had been picked up on, with fans of Leicester City being warned by their club that their season ticket would be confiscated should they unleash any homophobic chanting during an away match at the AMEX stadium in April 2013. However, some have argued that Brighton fans are not the ones that should be concerned, given that the majority of them are not gay. While this may be true, stadiums around the country are filled with gay fans every week and none of them should have to feel like an unwelcome minority. No doubt, there will be a few fans who condemn the changing landscape of terrace chanting, drawing reference to the good old days where everyone was fair game for a cheap dig. But what was so great about vitriolic bigotry in the first place?

Progressive... Less than a third of clubs are currently making a stand against homophobia.

Progressive few… Less than a third of clubs are currently making a stand against homophobia.

Chanting itself is not the only problem. Many football fans will be able to confirm the commonality of homophobic heckling to players and officials. It’s probably true to say that the  fans that make these comments are unaware of the effect they have and the possibility that their sick prejudice will be ingrained in the mind of the small children in attendance, pushing gay rights progress back years. Remarkably only 29 of the 92 top clubs in English football support the “Football vs Homophobia” campaign, a surprising stat given the more ‘family friendly’ nature of sport in the 21st century.

In actuality, the real damage of homophobia in football isn’t done to the fans of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, it isn’t done to the fearful closeted players of the English leagues. The damage is done to every conflicted young boy or girl, discovering the love of their football club only to be met with hateful comments simply for being who they are.

Fans views

The only way to gain a true insight in to Homophobia in football is to ask the fans. Here are some of their comments on the issue.

“In a nutshell, homophobia isn’t acceptable, but players “coming out” won’t make a difference. I’ve never seen any incidents at football.” – Kate (@bantamskatee), Bradford City fan

“(on Robbie Rogers) I have the utmost respect for having the balls to come out and say it, but if anything a massive shame that he’s retired as a result. I’ve got a good mate who’s gay also, and he says the one thing that scares him most about coming out is the way gays are perceived in the media, seeing as people who act especially camp such as Gok Wan & Louis Spence couldn’t represent his personality less. In-fact, him admitting to me he’s gay stunned me and I’d say it’s changed my opinion on gays and how I see them, I can fully see his side of it.” – Dan Turner (@DanLCFC93), Leicester City fan

“Well, I have never actually heard any homophobic abuse at Rovers or an away game and it is something I would never want to hear at a game… it is something to be stamped out along with racism…I feel like it shouldn’t be a bad thing to be gay and a football fan/player but I feel people are scared of the backlash from it.” – Lucy Ford (@LucyRovers), Bristol Rovers fan

“In modern day football, it’s unacceptable to be homophobic. The society away from football doesn’t accept homophobia, being a football fan doesn’t make you immune to the rules. There’s having a joke and then there’s intent to insult which I believe should lead to a ban in football.” – Jess Beasley, (@nffcjessx), Nottingham Forest fan

“When Rogers came out and retired it made big news here (United States). Many MLS teams said they’d welcome him. I think that he should’ve kept playing. But on the other hand I can understand why he retired. No gay professional athletes here either. Also, there haven’t been ANY homophobic abuses here stateside in football. (on whether a San Francisco franchise would receive homophobic abuse) That’s never been an issue here with other sports that have a team in San Fran, so I’d think it wouldn’t be an issue in football” – Kyle Debelak, Manchester City fan