Second place is up for grabs for Albion

James Wilson celebrates scoring against Reading. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst
James Wilson celebrates scoring against Reading. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst

Almost a case of “what goes around comes around”. For a number of years, it’s almost like Reading have had some kind of superiority complex over the Albion.

It goes back over a decade to the Albion’s 2002 title win when the then bitter Royals manager stated before the final day fixture between second and third place, Reading and Brentford, that “the best two teams in the league are playing here today”.

It goes on to the 11th hour signing of a very young but highly-rated Steve Sidwell right under the Albion’s noses, before what for me was possibly the beginning of Tony Bloom realising he had to take full control, when Steve Coppell was effectively sold to Reading as manager, even though he wanted the Albion to keep him. Yes, they’ve dallied with the Premier League, not once but twice, but Tuesday night’s visit to the Amex indicated the extent of their delusional supporters.

While a local derby, Reading via the M23, M25 and M4, is barely a couple of hours, so for a club of their size to bring 299 to an away league fixture is pathetic. Go back to their visit of April, 2012, when their away attendance was well into four figures. Fair weather fans, don’t you just love them?

In fact, even when Albion were having a poor season last year, we still took more than 1,100 up there on a Tuesday night.

For the Albion on the pitch, a great all-round performance, a number of chances created, a well-worked goal, couple of blips at the back, but Reading’s finishing was as questionable as their fans’ loyalty.

Second place and even with Middlesbrough versus Hull on Friday, a win at MK Dons will see Albion enter the international break in an automatic promotion place.

To quote the words of the late, great Brian Moore, “It’s up for grabs”.

With Albion on the road at MK Dons, a bumper crowd could be on the cards at Wood-side Road as champions-elect Folkestone Invicta come down to face the Rebels.

Unfortunately, one notable absentee will be Worthing Football Club stalwart Chris Baldwin, who sadly passed away in Worthing Hospital on Sunday morning.

Chris typified everything that was good about non-league football and its fan base.

Although not enjoying the best of health himself, he put his heart and soul into all things Worthing FC, serving on the Supporters’ Association committee, selling the now legendary golden goal tickets as people entered the ground but, most of all, following Rebels through thick and thin.

I remember a few years ago, before Adam Hinshelwood arrived, a previous manager was serving up a brand of football that had supporters boycotting Woodside Road in their droves. But Chris popped in to see me at my office and said they would have to literally stop playing before he missed a match, such was his love for the Rebels.

A love equally matched by his affinity to QPR, harking back to his days in West London as a youngster, and a support he carried right through his life. I remember the excited look on his face when I managed to get him tickets for the Albion against his beloved Rangers at the Amex, later tempered by the fact that Brighton effectively carried out a mugging and got all three points.

He took defeat as he took victory and the occasional draw with a smile, a top bloke who will be sadly missed by everyone at Woodside Road. As a fitting mark of respect, Worthing will hold a minute’s silence prior to Saturday’s fixture.

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