This is an inspiring story for football fans in general and Seagulls in particular, but I must warn of a problem: the typeface is so small I was quite taken aback. This was a particular worry as I bought it for my Dad for his 86th!
Anyway, while everyone else was celebrating the birthday party, he was reading the book, so it must be pretty good. But I'm not joking about the typeface - it is tiny. I have to wonder if that's the reason the usual preview is not available.
Before I go any further I have to declare my own interest. I am a Brighton fan. I marched, I wrote letters, I sent postcards and I door-stepped John Prescott. I was simply one of the thousands of supporters who chipped in one way or another to help in the fight to secure our new home and I can't really pretend to be an objective observer. This book tells that story in the words of the main movers and shakers in the boardroom and in the stands.
In posting this review I am trying hard to be fair and to not let my Brighton-centric view get the better of me. If I was reviewing this book for an Albion fanzine it would get five stars without a shadow of a doubt. It captures the mood of the Brighton supporters perfectly. Time and again I read comments that mirrored my own memories exactly. The peculiar, disjointed sensation of watching home matches in another county, the return home to the leafy, roofless valley at Withdean, the endless letters, the arcane planning regulations and public enquiries (plural): they are all here.
I hesitated to give this book five stars to a wider readership. I am always mindful of the fact that Amazon reviews are apparently posted by people that either love or loathe the product and there is rarely a middle ground. However, once I sat back and really thought about it I was struck again by what a good read this book is. My first thought when I received it through the post was that it was disappointingly thin. I was immediately wanting more. However, despite it's fairly short length it FEELS like a fourteen year journey. The words of the main protagonists really do bring home the frustrations, the astonishment, the befuddlement and ultimately the joy of the entire saga.
If I had any critique at all it would simply be that it is ever so slightly short. There is the occasional frustration that certain topics were not expanded upon. However, I've not deducted a star for this. It would be pretty harsh to punish a book for leaving you wanting more.
We Brighton types like to think that we wrote the book for fan protest. Truth be told, we probably are a touch "up ourselves" about it. That said, there is a lot here for fans of other teams in trouble. The dogged determination and invention of the protestors sets out a template for future protest. Supporters of clubs in crisis could do a lot worse than dip into this for guidance. For those that love the game there are anecdotes aplenty about those experiences that make the game special. Even students of social history may be struck by the political turns the protestors took. The book yomps along, drawing you in all the while to the tearstained finale. Go on. Spoil yourself.
Not quite as entertaining as 'Build a Bonfire' which charted Brighton's exit from the Goldstone Ground, but this book is a good read depicting, as it does, the enterprising efforts of Brighton's fans to circumvent the suffocating planning restrictions and interminable delays which delayed the construction of the magnificent AMEX stadium.
My copy was an awful long time coming from Amazon, but I haven't been able to put it down for two hours straight. Fascinating and gripping insight into the way local democracy really works if enough passionate people are prepared to never give up. The hell of the finances, the enquiries, the lawyers, but also the fun and invention, it's all here. Mostly it's about the real raw perfect beauty of people driven by love and passion. Everyone and anyone should read this book.
I lived in Brighton at this time. I knew about the campaign to bring the Albion home and find a permanent home. As a sport fan I was sympathetic to the cause. This sensational book puts my memories into context and brings to life the deep felt emotions that surely only the love of a football club can evoke. All true football fans, from any club, should read this book. Spielberg directs, Pacino plays Samrah...lights, camera, action.
So the club have done it , we've come a long,long way together and this book for any true Albion fan will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing up , a fantastic sequel to the equally brilliant We Want Falmer - a must before ANY fan is allowed through the AMEX turnstiles