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The beauty of Brighton

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Dan Walker | 14:58 UK time, Thursday, 11 August 2011

Some football stadiums are a little ugly. Some are strangely positioned and architecturally awkward. Then there is Brighton's new ground.

As you drive over the brow of the hill from Lewes (I think I my geography is correct) you see the brilliant white roof meshing rising above the wheat fields.

I've been to many grounds on the opening day of the season but there was a real buzz at the Amex last Saturday - a buzz that only comes from years of frustration at not having a place to call home.

As I mentioned on BBC1's Football Focus when talking to Brighton's chairman Tony Bloom - it was almost like a Jane Fonda video outside the ground with all the whoopping and hollering going on.

I should also say thank you to the eight million people who have mentioned the difference in height between Mr Bloom and I.

It wasn't quite Gandalf and Bilbo as one person claimed, but I admit there was an alarming height difference.

From about 1430 BST onwards there was furious flag waving inside the stadium in preparation for the arrival of Gus Poyet's League One champions.

When they turned up, Robbie Savage looked at me and said: "This is a bit special." Even Lawro, who has been there, seen it and won it, was on his feet.

From the minute we arrived at the ground on Thursday there was a real friendliness about the place. There were no 'you-can't-park-there' stewards.

The guy on reception offered us a cake and everyone went out of their way to be helpful.

There was a real pride in the fact that it was their stadium - a sort of collective living room for all Brighton fans who have waited 14 years for the privilege.

I remember the first time I heard the story of Jacob at Sunday school. He had to work for a bloke called Laban for 14 years to earn the right to marry his daughter, Rachel.

Brighton have finally moved into their new stadium after a long struggle with the council. Photo: Getty

He must have loved her after all that effort! I imagine that is why the Seagulls are so high on emotion at the moment.

The game itself couldn't have finished any better for them. It was as though the script writer had consulted Des Lynam and Fatboy Slim (famous Brighton fans for those not in the know!).

Poyet was sent to the stands for booting bottles inside the first 30 minutes and Doncaster Rovers - despite all the attention on the home side - were deservedly ahead through Billy Sharp.

On came Will Buckley in the second half and the £1m man scored twice. The second came in the 98th minute of the match, leaving large swathes of the Amex ground in various stages of delirium.

Who knows what will happen if they challenge for promotion this season?!

From a Football Focus perspective, things went very well for our first show of the new season.

It was great to see the Brighton team in the dressing room live on air, the guests were great and Mr Lawrenson and Mr Savage were on fine form.

The only disappointment about the day - and the ground in general - was the half-time snack. Mr Savage and I were gathering grub for the rest of the team.

The young fella serving us lost his concentration halfway through the transaction when he looked up and realised he was staring at Robbie. "You're Robbie Savage aren't you," he exclaimed.

I think his excitement might have caused him to hit buttons a little hastily because four burgers, two hot dogs and a Double Decker came to just shy of 35 notes!

The burger was not of remarkable quality. It wasn't quite in the same league as one I had at The Vetch a few years ago that made me seriously consider vegetarianism (for about a minute) but I'll opt for a pie the next time I make it to Brighton.

I'd be interested to know if you have any pie / burger recommendations from your own travels.

Burnley and Barnsley do a mean meat and potato number and - even though I have no idea what's in the Mega Dog available at Hillsborough - for the name alone it makes the top three.

We have a lovely show lined up for you this week in our new Salford studio. I'm not allowed to show you any pictures of the set yet but I can tell you that Patrick Vieira will be joining us on the seats (no longer a sofa).

Pele and Eric Cantona will be featuring and we'll have a rare heart-to-heart with the one and only Mick McCarthy. Throw in Paulo Di Canio, the best goals, a Premier League preview and Samuel L Jackson and you're on your way to a winner.

If you have any comments/questions about the show, Brighton, the season ahead or football based food then stick them below. If you want to follow the build-up, and see the first sight of our new studio, then check my Twitter @danwalkerbbc
See you Saturday, 1215 BST on BBC 1.


  • Comment number 1.

    Not a comment as such, I just felt that my username would be particularly apt in first spot.

  • Comment number 2.

    Surely if you go to the seaside you should be eating ice cream and rock, not burgers?

    (And before any Falmer FC fans jump on me, I know exactly where your ground is!)

  • Comment number 3.

    Good blog, great day, fantastic ground, excellent result (in the end) and sorry to say you are right his finger tapping obviously got the better of him, as it should have been a notch over £20 for the food. One last comment, should have gone for the pies - which are great!

  • Comment number 4.

    As you drive over the brow of the hill from Lewes (I think I my geography is correct) you see the brilliant white roof meshing rising above the wheat fields.
    Unless you went the scenic route, the chances are you came south down the A23 and then headed east on the A27. In which case you didn't come from the Lewes direction.

    Anyway, sounds like you have a fantastic show this Saturday. I may even watch, or look on iPlayer later.

    Anyway, I had a particularly rancid, heavy and stodgy burger in the away section of Three Point Lane a couple of seasons ago. Not sure it was kosha!

    Paul Furlong

  • Comment number 5.

    As a Brighton season ticket holder it was a brilliant day and if all you can complain about is the burgers next time I would definitely recommend then pies to any visitors...They sold 10000 on Saturday so that was at least 50% of the stadium fed!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Avoid the burgers but the pies at the AMEX are superb (and made on-site)! Best I've had at any ground in the UK.

  • Comment number 7.

    Went to the first game at the Amex on Saturday. As a seasoned footy fan I was a little unsure whether the first game had been 'overhyped', but I was blown away by the atmosphere both outside and inside the ground - gave me goosebumps to see the sea of blue and white flags being waved across the three home stands. Truly special. Credit should also go to the Doncaster fans who made the trip - applauding the home fans in their display of passion for their new home... Shows the positive side of British life around the world.

  • Comment number 8.

    The Stadium looks great. I remember visiting Brighton once as a kid, we stopped in at friends at Gatwick, then drove south to Brighton. Got into awful trouble for taking jelly babies from the friends in Gatwick and rubbing them in my younger brother's hair. He was rather diminutive, perhaps like Mr. Bloom, and had (has) a foul temper.
    Anyway moral in that story is, next time you are in Brighton, take some Gatwick jelly babies with you and save your self the 35 quid.

    As far as burgers are concerned the best one I have ever tasted was over here in America (you will recall from your trip to LA the portion sizes and varieties). Anyway this burger was entirely a home creation. My wife baked the bun, a nine grain kaiser roll, and I harvested, butchered, ground and then made the venison burger with a variety of herbs and onion. It was a little two wet so had to sit for 8 hours before I B-B-Q'd it. The lettuce, onion, tomato and Tesco sweet onion relish (brought back from Wales) were not home grown- obviously, but it was the best.
    Any way thanks for the blog and the opportunity to reflect on burgers & j-babies, got screaming kids to take care of now.

    If you want to sample a burger let me know next time you are in the US and I will FedEx half a dozen frozen ones to you.

    Hughie Ferguson ( a real player... can you find out more ??)

  • Comment number 9.

    As a Doncaster Rovers fan who attended the last game at the Goldstone I was delighted to see Brighton in their own home. If you had told anyone in the ground on that day as we both struggled for league two survival that we would be kicking off the opening day together in the championship 15 years later we wouldn't have believed it! As for stadium food, the hot chocolate at our old Belle Vue stadium was like hot lava, took about 45 minutes to cool down and I once got food poisoning from a hotdog at Darlington's ridiculously massive stadium!

  • Comment number 10.

    Forgot to mention,
    Venison burger was complimented by a local beer known as "Heresy." Really complimented the burger, but also proved that bad things taste so nice.

    Hughie Fergusson II (1927)

  • Comment number 11.

    A few years back, I went to the Women's FA Cup Final at the Den (Arsenal 4, Leeds 0 - Rachel Yankey bossed the whole game), and the pies and chips cost more than the tickets into the game...

    Jabba du Hutt

  • Comment number 12.

    The photo caption is rather misleading, the council in question was East Sussex County Council, based in Lewes, who hate Brighton. The Brighton City Council have been generally very supportive of the new stadium.

  • Comment number 13.

    A day out to the seaside with Robbie Savage.. Can he swim?

  • Comment number 14.

    What a beautiful stadium it is too, Theres some real pressure on Gus to deliver this year. I for one hope he does too, his passion is clearly there as Saturday showed.

    The Brighton game was one of the biggest reasons why i love football, the unpredicatbility of it.......great game!

    Im suprised you could see anything of the game with Savage's big hooter!


  • Comment number 15.

    Good on Brighton, hope they do well this season!
    Nice to see Gus doing well too, top fella!

    Wish I'd gone to the Spurs game down there the other week, I was in Brighton anyway on a lads day out, so opted to stay in the pubs on the beach front instead (had already given someone else my ticket)

    Best pies? West Brom and Wigan have to be the best in the prem!

  • Comment number 16.

    "The guy on reception offered us a cake and everyone went out of their way to be helpful."

    I thought Andy Reid had re-signed for Notts Forest?........

  • Comment number 17.


    Isn't this nice, just you and Carlton Palmer having a bath

  • Comment number 18.

    Laban you say Dan? He was a bit crafty actually. The deal was originally that Jacob would work 7 years for Rachels hand in marriage. Rachel had a sister called Leah, who was evidently the less pretty of the two. Laban tricked Jacob at the wedding and made Leah get dressed up in all the wedding regalia (face hidden) and Jacob only found out after he'd married her. Mind you, Laban then agreed to let Jacob work for another 7 years to get the girl he really wanted. So after 14 years he ended up with both sisters. Leah was the most fertile, and most of Jacobs 12 sons came from her (or her servant girl). Lucky chap. He could have fielded his own Jacob's XI, with a sub to spare :) Having said that, imagine all the nagging he must have had to endure, and he didn't have football focus to console himself with...

    Congrats to Brighton on the new stadium. Looks a little beauty.

    Henry VIII

  • Comment number 19.

    A fantastic looking wee stadium.

    As for the pies I'm sure they taste great but I bet the Killie pie (Kilmarnock FC) would give it a run for it's money.

    Anyway, well done Brighton, hope you have many a success at your new home!

  • Comment number 20.

    After all the events going on in various parts of the country since last weekend, it'll be nice to get back to some normality this weekend with the football (cricket in Birmingham) and everything else. Wonder how many work-hours are being spent today on peoples' fantasy football teams!?

    Good to have the show back last week and will be interested in seeing what the Salford studio is like.

    Cardinal Wolsey

  • Comment number 21.

    What a fantastic start to a new era. Well worth the all the time and travel from South Carolina - I couldn't have missed this! And the first night game on Tuesday was spectacular too. Went home on Wednesday completely exhausted but very happy!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Terrific blog, Dan.

    Backing up other comments, I had a burger there - not nice. You really should have had the pies at the Amex. You had the choice of Steak & Ale, Chicken & Ham or Butternut Squash & Coriander.

    No, really.

  • Comment number 23.

    Butternut squash & coriander? Unheard of!

    It seems pie would have been a much wiser choice.

    Thanks for the comments. Glad you enjoyed the show from Brighton last week.

    It's all coming together for tomorrow at the moment. Loads of stuff to cram in.

    If you've got any questions for Patrick Vieira or Richard Scudamore let me know.

    Brian Stein

  • Comment number 24.

    How does Patrick think Arsenal will get on this season? I would be interested to hear whether he thinks Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere can pick up the gauntlet (likely to be) dropped by Fabregas and Nasri.

    Many thanks,
    Thomas Cromwell

  • Comment number 25.

    PS what does Richard Scudamore think the Premier League as a whole can do to try and engage further with the youngsters, particularly in the cities, to try and make them feel more of the community? There is perhaps a disconnect felt between the "ordinary fan" and the multimillionaire players, maybe not helped by the perception that some players feel they can get away with unacceptable behaviour both on and off the pitch.

    Thomas Cranmer

  • Comment number 26.

    In other news, the price of a pint has gone down at Eastlands, which is good news for me. Still tastes like goat pee though (something to do with how it's stored), so not so great. The curry pie is good!

    Could you ask Vierra if he plans to go into management one day please? And if so, does he plan to learn his trade along side Mancini at City for the forseeable future?

    And could you also ask him to try and persuade Mancini to adopt a more attacking approach? Thanks.

    Shaun Goater

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi Dan,
    love the blog, great to see football back in focus!

    burger / pie debate could be superfluous if you went DIY !

    when I were a lad, standing on the terraces in The Shed, I'd have me cheese & strawberry jam sandwiches in me pocket until half-time..... didn't matter how much of a doorstopper each slice started out as, twas one squished sanger that entered me gob!

    didn't have the same trouble funnily enough at Griffen Park or The Beveree when the Blues were playing away. ;-)

    PS - it had to be strawberry jam & it had to be cheddar.

    Mark Stein

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Dan,
    Was at new AMEX taking my son to his first ever game (he's 4). You've passed on some the atmosphere to other readers, and although biased, I have to say the ten minute build up to the teams entering the field of play was spine tingling...whatever happens this season I will cherish the memories of a great day.

    Main reason for post is simply to ask, why is FF not on iplayer? I forgot to set V+ box so would love to have seen your behind the scenes shots and interviews with Mr Bloom.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    While I agree about the atmosphere I have to disagree about the burger. I can honestly say that the ones my son and I ate were the most delicious burgers we've ever tasted.

    As to the 98th minute goal, any chance we could win in normal time in future? My heart/hair/nails won't take another late injury-time goal!

  • Comment number 31.

    Pies? Pies? Pah! you haven't tasted a pie like a Clarksie down here in Cardiff!

  • Comment number 32.

    At first glance looks a great stadium, but then it loooks out of balance (a la Newcastle Utd & Lansdown Rd). Perhaps it is designed for a 2nd phase later.

  • Comment number 33.

    Your geography, perhaps. Your grammar, not.

  • Comment number 34.

    Hard to believe a good honest Brit would opt for a burger when there were meat pies on offer. Shame!

    Actually your fine day out reminds me of some of the new MLS grounds, like Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, with fine food, fine fans, chanting all through the match and a little hate for the other fellow mixed in. Just enough, like a good spice. Not too much, as though you actually meant it.

    As in a good meat pie, come to think of it.

  • Comment number 35.

    I have very little bit of time for Gus Poyet as a person, not a good guy. Shows little sportsmanship. I do however have respect for Brighton and they way they won L1 time out, they are bound to do well this year.

  • Comment number 36.

    @Rhino - He obviously works for the Amex catering crew. The burgers at Brighton are over-priced and awful....if a bit of meat between two bits of bap and*Nothing* else can pass as a burger.

    And I'm a passionate Brighton fan

  • Comment number 37.

    best of luck to brighton . i look out for their results now craig mackail smith has gone there.

    top 10 comfortably for brighton this season and im sure cms will be there or thereabouts in the highest scoring chart.


  • Comment number 38.

    Great blog, Dan.

    Having waited 14 years for the stadium, the over-riding feeling I experienced at the first game was DISBELIEF.

    Not disbelief at the superb architecture, or the fantastic facilities, or the brilliant atmosphere, but disbelief that this amazing stadium is actually OURS!

    Good things do indeed come to those who wait!

    By the way, just to be nit-picky: the view you refer to in your 2nd paragraph is on the 'B' road from Woodingdean, not the A27 from Lewes. I assume this is the road next to the wheat fields from where you introduced FF from on Aug 6th? It is, I agree, a fantastic view from there!

  • Comment number 39.

    An amazing day, stadium is superb. Give Mr Bloom a knighthood imediately.
    The slightly lopsided look is because they have the option to put in a further 8000 seats. If you build it, they will come.

  • Comment number 40.

    Please can I ask for your support to the following Formula 1 Government Petition
    Please spread the word. Really do need and appreciate your support.
    Thank you.

  • Comment number 41.

    good blog as usual Dan. Great work

    check it out

    Andre the giant

  • Comment number 42.

    It should have been built in the city of Brighton and Hove not in the county of East Sussex if the BH city council love BHFC Another bit of Sussex ruined by Prescott. Nice stadium just wrong place. What people have to understand is that most people in Sussex hate BHFC because they think they are the only Sussex team.And yes BHFC should stop calling itself Seagulls as they spend cash getting rid of the birds from the stadium....... maybe FALMER FC the new tractor boys.

  • Comment number 43.

    No blog this week then...?
    This one last week showed it was up from Thursday but didn't seem to appear till Friday. Hardly any point now if there is one lurking somewhere...

  • Comment number 44.

    Ahhh has somebody stolen your sweets!!
    Why do "most people in Sussex hate" Buckhurst Hill Football Club (BHFC). They're based in Essex. If you're going to criticise something it's a good idea to get your facts right before posting and be able to substantiate your argument. I can't work out if your'e jealous or just plain stupid.

  • Comment number 45.

    Hello dan, please comment on the repressive regime that is the FA. I am running an Under 8s side and Under 9s side and it is so so hard, please please comment on the bureaucy, its ruined our club. Kids wont play football next year thanks to them, its a joke.

  • Comment number 46.

    On stadium food - well travelled son tells me that takoyaki (octopus balls) at Gamba Osaka's home ground were superb! Put together and cooked before the customer's eyes.


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