MALICE AND THE PALACE
Forced to play each other five times during the 1976-77 season, twice in the old third division and three times in the FA Cup (ask your dads about multiple replays, kids), the players, managers and fans of Brighton and Crystal Palace tended to regard each other with boredom rather than contempt. At least that was the case until one Palace fan decided to liven up proceedings during encounter No 4 by throwing scalding coffee over Brighton manager Alan Mullery, who reacted by angrily pulling a handful of change out of his pocket, hurling it to the ground and shouting “You’re not worth that, Palace!”, before being led away by some members of the constabulary.
Mullery received a £100 fine and while Palace went on to win the tie at their third attempt, fans of both clubs took it upon themselves to continue hostilities outside the ground, and so one of football’s more peculiar and fierce rivalries was born. While there will be no fans at the Credit Card Stadium to shout abuse at each other tonight, on-pitch hostilities will resume in the snappily titled “Why Do Brighton And Crystal Palace Hate Each Other So Much And Why Is Their Derby That Is Not Actually A Derby Named After A Road?” derby. And while supporters of both clubs continue to cry over spilled coffee, their managers have plenty in common.
Englishmen from different generations who earned their managerial stripes in the home of Abba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Greta Thunberg, both Graham Potter and Mr Roy are renowned for thinking outside the box, while their teams are less than prolific inside it. And with Scott Parker having applied the defibrillator paddles to a once-flatlining Fulham, both teams are far from safe from the threat of relegation. Wilfried Zaha remains sidelined, and back-to-back defeats for Palace in both games he has missed have done little to dispel widely-held notions that, without their star player, Palace are complete bobbins.
Of course it’s also worth noting that for all their pretty passing patterns, insistence on playing out from the back and other aesthetically pleasing fancy-dannery, Brighton are no great shakes in front of goal, whether it’s trying to keep the ball out of their own or propelling it into that of the opposition. While ancient history suggests tonight’s game might be a spite-fuelled firecracker, more recent evidence suggests we could be in for a decidedly damp squib.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
One of these nights, there might actually not be any football on. But tonight is not that night. So join John Brewin for Brighton 0-0 Crystal Palace at 8pm (GMT).
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Cesc [Fàbregas] invited me because I love Christopher Nolan. I even walked the red carpet, although no one knew who I was. Nolan was there. Stephen Hawking. Kip Thorne, the physicist. Jessica Chastain. Hans Zimmer. And I was in a box with Thierry Henry, Michael Caine and the president of Warner Europe. I couldn’t believe it. There was a talk, then the film with a live orchestra and it was fantastic, the best thing I’d seen in my life” – Filipe Luís talks the premiere of Interstellar and the time he got all up in José Mourinho’s grill in this enthralling interview with Sid Lowe.
Football Weekly is here! Join Max, Barry and the rest of the pod squad to dissect all the weekend’s action, plus Big Dunc, the Dalai Lama and everything in between.
“Re Joy Clancy’s letter [Friday’s Fiver]: being named Joy while favouring the blue half of Liverpool … isn’t that a contradiction in terms?” – Simon Mazier, Saturday 1am.
“I’d now like to formally retract my earlier email” – Simon Mazier, Saturday 7.30pm.
“Big Paper reports that a distant relative of Julia Louis-Dreyfus is now the chairman of Sunderland. Cue the inevitable Seinfeld riffs. Is this particular striker spongeworthy? Does anyone else think that the manager is a bit of a close talker? And who can wait for Sunderland fans to begin the Festivus-themed airing of the grievances?” – Mike Wilner.
“You were down to two letters on Friday while over-indulging with your ‘wit’. Get a grip – you need fans in these desperate times” – Peter Hehir [is this better? – Fiver Ed].
Sometimes you think there’s nothing new to see in football, no sequence of play that hasn’t already happened before. Then you watch this clip, all the way from Mexico.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The government has announced that fans will not be able to attend football matches in England until 17 May at the earliest. Premier League stadiums will stay empty until the final round of matches, when up to 10,000 fans may be allowed in. The EFL season ends on the weekend of 8-9 May, leaving only play-off games with the potential for fans to attend.
Chelsea manager Tommy T has warned his side to prepare for a rough ride against Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid. “It’s a big test physically and mentally,” Tuchel chirped. “That’s what we want because hopefully it brings out the best in us.”
Leicester have slipped on their super spikes and made a fast start in the race to sign Lille’s £30m-rated midfield tyro Boubakary Soumaré.
Bristol’s aggro-ometer has been sent whizzing off its axis, with combustion’s Joey Barton named the new Bristol Rovers manager and wolf-wrestling Nigel Pearson set to take the reins across town at Ashton Gate.
Diogo Jota, who knacked himself on 9 December when Liverpool were cruising like a luxury yacht, will return to full training this week on the half-deflated dinghy that the Reds now resemble.
Marcelo Bielsa is yet to agree an extension to his one-year contract at Nasty Leeds, but that doesn’t mean he’s planning on taking his big blue bucket elsewhere. “I am not going to manage any other options until my job here at Leeds is done,” Bielsa harrumphed. “There is no speculation from my part.”
Fun and games in South America department: Internacional full-back Rodinei was set to miss his side’s potential title decider against parent club Flamengo on Sunday, until a fan stepped in and paid the 1m real (£132,400) fee required for him to play. Rodinei repaid their generosity … by getting sent off in a 2-1 defeat.
If there’s one thing Arsène Wenger knows, it’s how to secure fourth place – and after running the numbers, he thinks Chelsea won’t make the cut. “43 points out of 25 games … on that average [they will get] 63, and fall a fraction short,” Wenger told a bemused Richard Keys on BeIn Sports.
STILL WANT MORE?
History beckons for Jill Scott when she wins her 150th England cap, writes Suzanne Wrack.
It’s Big Website’s fresh and funky new feature*: 10 talking points from the Premier League this weekend.
“I’m the [eff]ing best! Me! Me! I told you!” Romelu Lukaku enjoyed getting one over on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Milan derby, writes Nicky Bandini.
Even without their best player, Eintracht Frankfurt had enough about them to send champions Bayern into a spin, writes Andy Brassell.
PSG may be flying in Big Cup, but they could not lay un gant on Monaco as their domestic struggles continue, write our Ligue Urrrrrrrrrrrrn experts.
Why are English clubs turning to high-interest loans from the USA! USA!! USA!!!? Proper journalist David Conn investigates.
Whatever happened to the Kansas City Wiz, and why do MLS teams keep rebranding, wonders Graham Ruthven.
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