Boxing Day was to be our return to football. It wasn’t the traditional local derby as Dagenham & Redbridge are hardly local. Also they are hardly long established rivals. But as Albion hadn’t kicked a ball seriously for two weeks we were looking forward to it, by Ray Eggleton.
In mitigation at making a wasted journey, can I state that I checked the website before starting out. A pitch inspection the previous day reported the game on and the sun was shining. Before the M23 and Gatwick I switched on local radio but the signal had faded. Our small family group were on our way. Why would it be cancelled?
I thought I was lucky with the parking, very close to the ground, and in good time for something to eat and drink before the game. Why were there people going the wrong way? Into the ground and our worse fears were realised: game off – frozen pitch.
I’m not sure which was the strongest emotion, sadness or annoyance. We should have checked before reaching the M25 but our suffering was put into perspective on chatting to other Brighton fans. One guy with his son had driven down from Doncaster. They try to follow the Seagulls to all parts and had, of course, set off very early. That was a long drive back.
There were many supporters in a similar position. Later I discovered large numbers had set off for the 1pm kick-off because the decision was not announced until between 10 and 11am.
Dagenham scenery did not encourage sightseeing so it was a quick bite to eat and back over the QE2 Bridge.
So no match report but if the Middy would like to commission a ‘Restaurant Scene,’ I have a couple of hundred words ready on the Rainham McDonalds!
Apparently match referee Gavin Ward did an inspection of the Victoria Road pitch around 10am. Word has it that the Daggers wanted to play but Albion manager Gus Poyet said that it was unsafe. It is the ref’s decision and he went with the safety of the players. I’m afraid suffering supporters did not get a vote. It was harder to take seeing the Dagenham players training on the pitch.
Back home there was time to reminisce about the longest journey to a postponed game. Norwich for us − that was a cup game a good few years ago with a playable pitch despite a covering of snow. We had had the Delia pies before the game and there was a huge crowd when a delay was announced. It was 3.15 before a coded message: “Mr Carrow is in the ground” revealed that the game was off. Their electrics had failed. We didn’t even get a voucher for another pie.
Where does all this inactivity leave us? Answer: Still top and clear by three points. I said last week that results were going our way. There was only one League One game played. Third placed Huddersfield had the chance to close the gap and indeed go top by Tuesday. But they lost at home to Hartlepool and lost again to Southampton.
So it now reads: Albion P19, W10, D6, L3, G/D+16, Pts 36; Sheffield Weds 21-10-3-8-+13-33; Huddersfield 21-10-2-9-+6-32; Charlton 19-9-5-5-+6-32; Southampton 20-9-4-5-+13-31; Bournemouth 20-8-6-6-+13-30.
Charlton were due to visit Withdean last night (Wednesday) in what was a big match where there was the potential for a six-point swing between the promotion challengers.
Because of postponements, we went into the match having not won a league game since November 2 but whatever the result, we were still guaranteed to start 2011 in top place.
See next week’s column to read all about Albion’s incident-packed 1-1 draw with Charlton on Wednesday. Brighton went behind to a third minute penalty before Inigo Calderon was sent off four minutes later. But Albion salvaged a point thanks to a Glenn Murray goal on 37 minutes.