I wrote a short piece for the Brighton and Hove Independent about how to encourage the singing of Sussex by the Sea before Brighton and Hove Albion home matches at the Amex.
A series of collective myths have taken hold about what really happened on that long long evening of Monday May 13th 2013. Incredibly it wasn’t the tactical supremacy of Ian Holloway, Ashley Barnes missing a sitter and Wayne Bridge’s inability to defend the very last time Wilfred Zaha performed on a a football pitch that led to our cruellest defeat.
In amidst ceilings being hit, unexplained dressing room shenanigans apparently Gus Poyet had other ideas.
Only a few hours later it was reported that he thought that the “extremely silly idea” of lyrics of Sussex By the Sea and the “annoying noise” of free “clackers” handed to every fan had been a factor. Going further, fan forum North Stand Chat was full of such theories and club zine; The Seagull Love Review described these brief attempts to encourage a pre-match atmosphere as “something akin to a North Korean military rally” with an opera singer’s rendition of the song itself as “the single worse non-football related thing I have ever seen at this club”.
Its true that clubs mess with tradition at their peril and I agree attempts to encourage fan singing is fraught with difficulty . Only Mike Bamber, and then for a few weeks, was foolish or brave enough to stop using Sussex by the Sea in the clubs 100 year history. However there are other myths. Despite the proud North Stand banner and a few examples of “Stand or Fall” t-shirts dotted about, virtually nobody sings the real lyrics of the century old marching song. All around me voices prefer to shout out “Na na na” and then mostly at the wrong speed”. Even the faintly embarrassing “Up for the Cup” lines were invented by Norman Wisdom dancing round the pitch on the Goldstone over 50 years ago.
So I’d say now is the time for marching and re-establishing some tradition. Lets start doing this the right way. Even if this means with some help from words in the programme or on the big screens. And stuff what our friends up the A23 think. Their traditional 1964 “South London” anthem is in fact better known as the biggest hit of the Tottenham Sound. And that isn’t a myth.