I've never signed up to another club's forum before so this is a first for me. Part of it is therapy. I'm still struggling to process the end of the season and just want to air it all. The trouble is that most people I know don't give a damn. It's only on a forum, even a rival's forum, that people really "get" it.
I started following Brighton in the early 80s during the good times. I was eight when my Dad took me to my first match. It was a 0-0 draw with Stoke. God knows why I ever went back! My point here is that I only had the briefest of times watching us in the top flight before we reverted back to our historical role of being not at all good. I've seen a few of you on here complaining how unlucky you've been for a decade or two. Well I've been waiting 33 years to get back to the big time now and thanks to your boys I can add at least another year to that.
Today has genuinely hurt. Around every half an hour my mind has drifted back to last night and I get a fresh slug of sadness right in the gut. A season as good as ours simply shouldn't hurt that much. However, I am also glad I was at the match. It was an amazing experience: the kind of night you'll be glad to say you were there for in years to come.
We WERE unlucky in many respects. Decisions and injuries did go against us for the last few fixtures. I will admit that we bottled the Derby game though and that cost us in the end. Had we found a way to win that we could have afforded a draw at Boro' and then who knows?
Anyway, why am I here? Apart from the therapy bit, I wanted to pop by and applaud you and your team. I wasn't at the Hillsborough game but the TV made it pretty clear that your support was phenomenal. At The Amex you turned up in force and made yourselves heard. While I could barely bring myself to look at you all partying at the end I have to acknowledge that your end looked like a very fun place to be. As for your team, quite a few I our message boards would have you believe your win was purely down to luck. That's obviously wishful thinking. Your boys did a thorough, professional job on us. The home leg could have been won by more. We made you sweat out the first half last night but your second half was monumental. Your boys shut down every last inch of space. We got urgent, then careless, then rattled and made almost nothing. I kept waiting for you to break out with pace and grab the winner but at least that never came. I've no complaints. None against you anyway.
You've had long enough in the wilderness to have earned this shot at the top flight. I was always impressed/amazed with the numbers that turned up to cheer you on when you were in the third tier. That speaks volumes for what you are and could be in the future and I've got to admire it. For what it's worth, I hope you do it. All year long we have been the underdog. The fact that we've fallen short pains me but the underdog mantle passes to you for the playoff final. Hope it fits you.
I may never post on here again but I felt I needed to get that little lot off my chest.
Best of luck.