On a foul, cold day of bitter wind and swirling rain, with wet shoes, I found myself in the north section of the Amex Stadium’s car park, cursing the weather gods, and ready to be in a mood as foul as the day if things didn’t go smoothly. I was waiting to catch a bus to the People’s Pension Stadium in Crawley. But this was no ordinary bus: not only was it on time, but it was free!
I should explain. I was at the Amex to pick up the complimentary transport laid on by Brighton & Hove Albion for supporters to get to their women’s team home matches which are played just up the A23 in Crawley. The Amex is the last pick up point, the bus having already stopped across the city to pick up followers.
So, on time, clean and friendly, and full of excited supporters, the bus set off and shortly parked outside Crawley Town’s stadium in plenty of time for us to get to our seats, taking any detours on the way to get coffee, beers, sandwiches, etc.
At 2:00 the game kicked off, and to the soundtrack of the passionate but family-friendly (read, no swearing and abuse of players) crowd’s “Sea- Sea- Seasiders”, and “Seeeeeeeeaaaaagulls!” the home fans enjoyed the first 20 minutes, with Albion creating the best chances, including a great shout for a penalty within the first minute. But on the stroke of half an hour Le Garrec got a second yellow after a rat-a-tat pinball exchange ended with a Spurs player on the floor. Although the Seagulls responded well and continued to have the best chances, the decisive moment came 20 minutes into the second half when Tottenham’s Addison was felled in the box, and Dean scored what proved to be the winner from the spot.
Hope Powell’s team continued to push for an equaliser: they hit the bar, shot inches wide from close range, and Simpkins put in a Player of the Match performance. But, thanks to some high-quality timewasting, including world-class simulation and Oscar-worthy pretending they thought a throw-in was a freekick, Spurs held on for the win.
Often the worst part of going to the football is the journey home, especially after a deflating loss: you just want to be at home on the sofa, not faffing around with roadworks or rail engineering. However, the club makes every effort to ensure that supporting the team is as easy as can be, and they succeed in doing this: the journey back to Brighton was as slick as the outward leg. As we left the stadium, the bus was waiting for us where it had dropped us, and we were on the road five minutes after the match ended. We arrived back at the Amex in plenty of time for me to catch my train back into town, before it went on to drop the other supporters off at their preferred stops.
Women’s football is getting bigger, and attendance seemingly growing with every match. With England reaching the semi-final of last year’s World Cup, coverage is more visible than ever, and shows like The Women’s Football Show are finally giving us the chance to get to know the teams and players, and follow the game with the regularity it deserves. And with the countdown to next year’s Euro’s, held in England, having just passed 500 days, there’s never been a better time to go and watch your first FA Women’s Super League match. Especially as it has recently been announced that the Amex will play host to some of the matches in the much-anticipated tournament, that will see England as one of the favourites.
Not only is watching Albion women great entertainment but it is astonishing value: where else can you watch topflight sports for £4 (half that for concessions) – including travel! A great day out for the whole family.
BHAWFC play home matches at The People’s Pension Stadium, Winfield Way, Crawley RH11 9RX
Images by Kyle Hemsley