Back in the mid to late 1960s, when I first started following the Albion home and away, the fixture list was more or less set in stone with only an FA Cup run, or snowbound pitches, causing League games to be moved. Fans could rock up at the local train station and pay the going rate for a trip to Rochdale or Halifax and be able to get back on the same day. If memory serves, the only team that could not be reached from Brighton by three o’clock kick-off was Barrow.
Of course, there were some exceptions. For example, Tranmere Rovers and Stockport County played home games on Friday nights for obvious financial reasons (the proximity of the Liverpool and Manchester clubs) but those two aside, virtually every weekend fixture kicked off at three o’clock.
Forest on a Friday
Fast forward four decades and two Albion games have already been moved for the dubious benefit of live TV: the home match with Nottingham Forest was brought forward to a Friday night, and the away fixture at Newcastle put back to 5:30pm on a Bank Holiday weekend Saturday.
For Forest fans it meant an afternoon off work to reach the Amex in time for kick off. Actually, if you’re planning to use Southern trains, make that a day off work. On the credit side, you can make a weekend of it and enjoy a night in the city by the sea. Just don’t expect much change from £125 for your hotel room. If that doesn’t float your boat and you want to get straight home then why not catch the last train to London, grab a few hours’ kip at St Pancras and if you wake in time, catch the first train north and you’ll be home in time for a late breakfast.
Not so super Sunday
Albion fans face a similar dilemma. Yes, you might have that masochistic streak that says; ‘I really fancy a 600-mile round trip drive on a Bank Holiday weekend.’ But if you let the train take the strain a brief internet search shows that if you catch the 21:55 you should be home for the first part of Sky TV’s Super Sunday, featuring the magic of West Bromwich Albion against Middlesbrough.
Yes, I do subscribe to Sky, and yes I will be watching both games via that medium, but it ain’t right.