Life must be pretty sweet if you're a Brighton and Hove Albion fan right now. The supporters have endured plenty of hard times, two homes they didn't really want and all sorts of issues regarding their long term future but as they stand here today, top of npower League 1 and with a fabulous new stadium on the horizon, the Seagulls support must be smiling from ear to ear.
I watched a video on TV showing us around their new, plush stadium and I have to say it looks unbelievable. Not only is it beautiful to look at, it also offers some state-of-the-art facilities that would be the envy of clubs a lot richer than Brighton. The pitch will be made up of a special surface that is player friendly and easier on their joints, there will be a 3G warm-up area, great sight lines etc. You name it, they've thought of it.
The feature I liked most was Brighton's plan to change the colour of the away end on a match-to-match basis, even including pictures of their own club legends in the bars below the stand. The idea behind this is to make more opposition fans feel more like travelling to the game and taking in the unique experience. I think it's a wonderful initiative.
Having waited so long for the chance to leave the Withdean Stadium, Brighton certainly haven't gone about things half-heartedly. The patience shown by their fans is sure to be repaid both on and off the pitch and as a former player I couldn't be more pleased for them.
Outside of the current division I was thrilled to see former League 1 legend, Matt Jarvis, earn an England call-up this week. He played many, many times at this level for Gillingham and now, less than four years after leaving the Kent club for Wolves he's achieved the ultimate honour.
I watched Matt several times when he was with the Gills and he did always stand out as a top player. He was very direct, positive in his play and he had a fine end product. I'm sure he'll be wondering what on earth has happened to him but Matt's made it to international level through hard work, determination and ability. He deserves his place. Hopefully some of the division's current crop of youngsters will emulate Matt and go on to the level he's at in the years to come.
On the pitch, Walsall are catching my eye at the moment. Their 5-2 victory at home to Hartlepool United was impressive and they produced that win on the back of some much improved form of late.
Relegation threatened sides often find some extra resolve at this most important time of the season. It's hard to pin point why they don't produce the same levels consistently and it must drive managers crazy but the simple fact is that when they're threatened with something bad, players do tend to pull their fingers out!
What Walsall need to do now is to string four, five, six or seven good results together. If they can manage that I imagine they will be safe. It looks to me as if no one will fancy facing them in the run-in, as they fight for their lives.
Last word this week goes to npower League 1 Player of the Year, Craig Mackail-Smith. He picked up the honour at this week's Football League Awards and for my money, completely warranted it. Not just this term, but ever since he joined Posh from non-league his goal record has been outstanding.
What makes this award even more fitting is the fact that he's had to work so hard for it. I'm sure Craig felt overlooked a few years back while he was at Dagenham & Redbridge but he refused to accept he wouldn't be a top professional and through determination and dedication he's now reaping the rewards. When someone like Craig Mackail-Smith gets recognition you can't argue that it's not fully deserved.
This week's reader's question comes from Oldham fan Bradley Peters
Hi Andy, I'm a worried Latics fan. Given our current run of form do you think we're heading towards a nervy relegation battle?
Recent results have been poor Bradley but Paul Dickov and his side haven't been as bad as the scores suggest. From what I've seen they've been quite unlucky, especially last weekend when they went down 1-0 at home to Brighton. All they need in my opinion is one win and then they will be flying again.
Oldham has a very, very young team. While that has many virtues the one pay-off for youthful endeavour is inconsistency. When they come up against 'men' they won't always come out on top and that's a fact of life. However, the fragile confidence they are experiencing at the moment will vanish once they end the losing streak. One or two victories and Oldham will be well clear of trouble.
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