Brighton 3-1 Palace
Christmas came a few weeks early for Brighton as Crystal Palace capitulated at the Amex.
In the gospel of Matthew (2:11), three Magi presented gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the baby Jesus and this is why we give presents at Christmas to our nearest and dearest. Much like Jesus, Brighton were the recipients of three gifts in the recent incarnation of the (not M23) Derby.
“I’ve just seen Brighton’s penalty for the first time. F**king hell, Kevin Friend. How is he still a Premier League referee?” Was the sentiment on Twitter from a Southampton fan that I had on the Back of the Nest Podcast earlier in the season.
If there was a gold medal for the worst decision of the season, Kevin Friend would certainly be in prime position for blowing the whistle and pointing to the spot after James McArthur clearly won the ball.
One thing that stats prove over and again is that the first goal in a Premier League match is often golden, and Glenn Murray made no mistakes from the spot to score against Palace for the third game in a row. Should Palace fans still be clapping him? A question for another day.
The second gift that Jesus received was Frankincense. This is an oil that reduces feelings of fear and nervous tension. The second gift that Brighton received on the night certainly provided that purported effects of the oil for the home fans.
The first drop of the oil saw Kevin Friend let Glenn Murray get away with a dive in the penalty area. Should Palace fans still be clapping him? A question for another day.
The second drop of oil saw Friend award a corner when the ball had clearly bounced of Murray last.
Even with Friend being in such a charitable mood for the hosts, he had no choice but to then send Shane Duffy off for a stupid headbutt on Patrick van Aanholt. I say headbutt, it was more of a head to head push, but rules are rules. For what it’s worth, I don’t think that should be a red and van Aanholt should be standing his ground there.
This was where the gifts from Friend stopped and the ones from Palace begun.
Murray was off the field receiving treatment as Leon Balogun replaced Pascal Gross. What happened next was akin to the Amex being positively drowned in the mythical oil.
Brighton score goals from set pieces. The three main threats are Murray, Dunk and Duffy. Duffy was on his way to his early bath, and Murray was on the side of the pitch. This leaves Dunk and two Palace players free. Instead of anyone picking up the substitute, everyone just watched on as he lashed the ball in at the back post completely unmarked.
If we clear that corner, we have a chance of winning that game. As soon as the ball hit the net, the game was over. The hosts, who are extremely disciplined when it comes to defending, were going to set up with ten men behind the ball against a Palace team that couldn’t break down a paper wall with an axe.
Myrrh symbolised death in the guise of an embalming oil. On the stroke of half-time, four minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first half to be precise, Palace presented the final gift to the hosts. James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho allowed Florin Andone to nip in to score an unlikely third, crashing the final nail into the coffin.
Myrrh might also be the best way to spell the noise that came out of my mouth as Brighton fans away to my right taunted us.
It is difficult for me to enjoy the Palace and Brighton rivalry at the best of times, nights like last night almost ruins it for me.
It’s not the match itself, it is the absolute state of a (to be fair, shrinking) number of our fans who in 2018 still want to yell homophobic abuse at the Brighton fans. It makes watching the game, with my lesbian sister standing next to me, almost unbearable.
My sister is unable to, and shouldn’t have to, hold her tongue. She introduces herself to the person behind us in the first ten seconds of the match to the first person to throw homophobic abuse. “Hi, gay Palace fan here” she politely says with a big smile. “You’re alright” is his awkward and baffling response.
Next up, “let’s batter these queer boys” from someone a few rows behind us. This time I look at him and simply shake my head. This appears to trigger him and his mate to up the ante with his insults. Eventually, after a few heated words, one comes down and apologises, the other continues grinning like a Cheshire cat and lowers the volume on his insults so that he is just saying them to the people around him. That is somehow worse. I know this guy’s name, I know where he sits, I see him at every away game. Palace is his life. 24 hours later and I am still fighting the urge to report him to the Club. I still don’t know if I will/should or not.
We could have reported him at the time, stewards came running over to see what the arguments were about. We politely told them to sod off and that we were self-policing and they’re not needed. Are we right to do that? Should we throw him under the bus? Should “he’s Palace” be a blocker on doing the right thing?
Perhaps the most entertaining piece of homophobic abuse of the night was a Palace fan that was so triggered by a Brighton fan giving to him from 100 feet away, that he ran to the front and screamed at the stewards; “are you going to do anything about him. He’s been inciting us all game… who’s your manager? I want that person thrown out [doesn’t get the response he wants and retreats up the stairs screaming] of course you won’t do anything, you’re too busy putting your bollocks up each other’s arses.”
What was touching was the couple of people that came over and apologised on behalf of people they do not even know. “I am sorry you have to put up with this. You’re handling it very well” and other comments along those lines.
People all over the stand last night were making homophobic jokes or laughing at ones made by others. Most of these people were probably outraged by the banana being thrown at Aubameyang on the weekend, but their behaviour suggests that if they were thirty years younger, they would have been throwing banana skins at black players.
I wonder how many of you read that last paragraph and thought “that’s not the same thing.”
In a season that has heard Tommy Robinson chants in the Holmesdale and seen Football Lads Alliance leaflets being handed out outside the stadium, it’s going to take a lot more than the Holmesdale Fanatics returning for me to claim that we are the best fans in the division.
They score three, we scored one thanks for ruining all our fun.